February 27, 2015 / 64(07);165-170
Incidents of health care–associated hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission that resulted from breaches in injection safety and infection prevention practices have been previously documented (1,2). During 2010 and 2011, separate, unrelated, occurrences of HCV infections in New Jersey and Wisconsin associated with surgical procedures were investigated to determine sources of HCV and mechanisms of HCV transmission. Molecular analyses of HCV strains and epidemiologic investigations indicated that transmission likely resulted from breaches of infection prevention practices. Health care and public health professionals should consider health care–associated transmission when evaluating acute HCV infections.
An estimated 3.2 million U.S. residents have chronic HCV infections; during 2011, approximately 16,500 acute HCV infections were diagnosed. Molecular analyses of HCV strains have enhanced investigations of health care–associated transmission (3–5) by determining the relatedness of strains infecting persons with acute and chronic HCV infection. Two investigations of HCV infection among patients who had surgical procedures highlight the potential for HCV contamination of medications or equipment, which can result in transmissions that are difficult to recognize.