Twelve confirmed cases of Hepatitis C are connected to an April outbreak at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, according to health officials.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported four new Hepatitis C cases Wednesday, in addition to the eight confirmed cases originally reported. The cases are genetically linked through testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are still one probable Hepatitis C cases that is waiting for CDC testing.
Nearly 1,000 of the potentially 2,800 patients who may have been exposed have not been tested yet.
The one common provider who treated all 12 patients was former nurse Cora Weberg, who injected each patient with intravenous drugs, according to the health department.
Hepatitis C is commonly spread through the sharing of needles, according to the CDC. But the health department’s Nigel Turner said the disease can also be spread in many ways through contaminated blood and admits the investigation is ongoing.
“It’s not clear how the Hepatitis C spread in this outbreak,” said Turner.
“They don’t have a clue if this was a bedpost, an orderly, a nurse passing by, whether they had a sandwich from the kitchen that was prepared by the same cook. They don’t have a clue,” said Weber’s attorney Bryan Hershman.
Weberg has not been genetically linked to the outbreak.
Weberg had previously admitted to stealing narcotics and resigned. The Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission suspended Weberg’s license, according to the state health department.
The nurse denied infecting the patients with Hepatitis C and that she even carries the infection.
Weberg’s RNA blood test – which detects the Hepatitis C virus in blood – came back negative. But health officials say the test will come back clean if your body has fought and cleared the virus.
However, the antibody test will show up positive for the rest of your life, and Weberg’s antibody test was positive. But those antibodies cannot be genetically matched to actual Hepatitis C.
Her lawyers argued over 5 percent of the population have the antibody, but it doesn’t mean you have Hepatitis C.
© 2018 KING