Officials: Dozens of dentist's patients test positive for hepatitis

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 2:26pm

TULSA, OK (CNN) — A few dozen former patients of an Oklahoma dentist have tested positive for hepatitis C or B, Oklahoma health officials said Thursday as they released initial test results in a probe into whether people were exposed to certain diseases at the dentist's offices.

Health officials stress that it's not yet clear how many of the positive patients, if any, were exposed to the diseases at the suburban Tulsa offices of Dr. W. Scott Harrington.

"The next phase will include more in-depth interviews of persons who test positive to determine the likelihood that their exposure is associated with their dental surgical procedure at the Harrington practice," state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said.

Harrington, 64, surrendered his license last month -- and officials asked 7,000 of his patients to be tested for hepatitis and HIV -- after health officials found sterilization and other infractions at his offices.

Of the 3,122 patients tested so far, 57 tested positive for hepatitis C and three tested positive for hepatitis B, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Tulsa Health Department said Thursday.

There was at least one positive HIV test, but officials didn't specify the number, saying state policy restricts releasing numbers less than three.

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