The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Friday announced that through special molecular testing done on blood specimens at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four more Maryland patients infected with Hepatitis C virus were found to have virus closely related to infections linked to David Kwiatkowski, a healthcare worker accused of diverting narcotics for personal use. The four were patients of Johns Hopkins Hospital during the time from July 10, 2009, to January 9, 2010, when Kwiatkowski was placed there by a medical staffing agency. The results are in addition to a previously identified and reported patient of the Baltimore VA Medical Center with closely related virus.
The five patients identified to date are among approximately 1,700 patients of four Maryland healthcare facilities (The Baltimore VA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, MD General Hospital and Southern MD Hospital Center) who had been notified that they had undergone procedures in which Mr. Kwiatkowski was potentially involved and that they should get tested for hepatitis C infection.
Additional closely linked cases have been identified in New Hampshire and Kansas.
No documented incidents of drug diversion associated with the healthcare worker were reported to DHMH. However, the finding that five patients are infected with Hepatitis C virus closely related to the outbreak strain adds to the concern that such activity might have occurred in Maryland. DHMH has been leading a review of potential vulnerabilities in Maryland to identify steps that could help prevent such disease transmission. The report of this review is expected in early 2013.