Mystery Hepatitis B, C Cases Still Rising In Wyoming

Dated I guess – July 12, 2003. Reproduced from:

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello Jeff – I won’t pretend to know what is going on with the outbreak of hepatitis in Wyoming. I simply must tell the truth, I am perplexed.

As you know HCV and even HBV both have long incubation periods. HCV can be as long as 10, 20 or 30+ years. When were these people infected? What caused such a massive outbreak. We normally see cases singularly, or, in some cases, clusters within a certain community. The numbers however are usually “staggered,” i.e. patients became infected at different times. In other words, some may have contracted the disease 5 years ago, others newly diagnosed might have contracted it a decade or more ago etc etc.

The present thought is that IV drug use is the cause of the spike in cases. I have to wonder why only in the Casper/Natrona County area of Wyoming? People across the US use IV drugs, and I am sure that if increased usage took place in Wyoming, the same would hold true for New York, L.A., Chicago, etc. This outbreak does appear to be out of the ordinary and I believe that rising drug usage may not be the only culprit of spread.

It is quite possible that we have a deliberate infection ongoing. Whether or not the infection is being spread via IV drugs or other route, it appears that the CDC should look into a deliberate spread. The cases that have been diagnosed during the outbreak need to be surveyed personally and given assurance that their responses will be kept confidential. We need to look for a commonality among the cases.

The CDC prefers to publicize the risk factors for HBV and HCV as 1. IV drug use, 2. multiple sex partners and, in some cases, homosexual behaviors. They dismiss far too quickly people who have no risk factors. If people answer negatively to the above risk factors, the CDC may not test for the diseases and therefore, some people may go undiagnosed. This could cause epidemiologists to overlook cases and therefore miss a possible source for the outbreak.

I think that people in the Casper area need to test themselves for both HBV and HCV whether they have risk factors for the diseases or not. Something very strange is occurring and the outbreak may be far more wide then the local health department or CDC anticipated. Speaking from experience as HCV and HBV positive, contracting the diseases is quite possible without any risk factors.

I urge anyone in the area of outbreak to get tested, with or without risk factors. If anyone who has tested positive would like to contact me, please do so. A diagnosis of HBV/HCV is tramatic but can be made easier with help and support.



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