Nov 30, 2011 07:17 PM

Hepatitis C Outbreak Hits Anhui, Henan

At least 117 people have contracted Hepatitis C in Anhui and Henan Provinces in recent weeks, health officials announced November 28, saying they suspected unsanitary needles at a private clinic. 


Anhui health department officials on November 28 said they had traced the outbreak to a private clinic in Maqiao county in the neighboring Henan Province, after discovering that 13 Anhui residents who had all tested positive for Hepatitis C in recent weeks had all gone to the same clinic . None of them had undergone operations, received blood transfusions, donated blood, or come into contact with Hepatitis C carriers recently, the officials said, leading them to suspect contaminated needles as the culprit.

A subsequent investigation by the Yongcheng Municipal Health Bureau in Henan found that 104 people, including dozens of children, have tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus in the city, the state news outlet Xinhua Agency reported. 

Health officials in both provinces have yet to determine whether dirty needles are ultimately to blame for the outbreak.

According to China's Ministry of Health, about 150,000 people contracted Hepatitis C in 2010, an increase of 15.49 percent compared to 2009. Hepatitis C can spread through blood contact, sexual transmission or from a mother to a child. 

Li Qian, a doctor with Beijing's Chaoyang District Center for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that it is standard protocol for health departments and hospitals to only use certified needles, and to only use them once.

On November 29, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang announced a new set of policies to promote public hospital reform, including social investment to set up hospitals.

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