Medical Technician Responsible for Hepatitis C Transmission

BERLIN, Germany-German researchers are reporting a medical technician with a cut on his finger accidentally infected five hospital patients with the hepatitis C virus.

The hospital's name and location are not being released.

There have been rare cases where patients have been infected by their surgeons or anesthesiologists, but this is the first case where a medical technician has infected a patient. Hepatitis C is usually spread through intravenous drug use.

The technician reported the case to the New England Journal of medicine. Researchers say the anesthesiology technician did not like to wear gloves because they diminished the sense of touch he needed for his work.

He thinks a small cut on his hand may have passed the virus to the patients. He contracted the virus from a patient during surgery in 1998. Within six weeks, he administered anesthesia to five other patients, all of whom contracted the viral disease.

Genetic analysis confirmed he was the source of the patients' infections.

Hepatitis C attacks the liver and can cause jaundice, fatigue, pain, and vomiting. It can lead to liver damage and cancer. There are an estimated four million Americans who have the virus.

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