Reports of hepatitis C infections among dialysis patients in the United States are rising, largely because of poor infection control practices, health officials say.
Between 2014 and 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of about 36 cases of hepatitis C infection at 19 kidney dialysis clinics in eight states.
So far, investigators have determined that patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis C occurred at nine of those clinics.
Lapses in infection control procedures — such as injection safety, cleaning and disinfection, and hand hygiene — were common at these clinics, the CDC reported Wednesday. The exact means of hepatitis C transmission could not be pinpointed, but all of these deficiencies could contribute to transmission of the virus.
Hepatitis C, which can cause lifelong liver disease, is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person, according to the CDC.
Improved screening and awareness of the risk of hepatitis C infection in dialysis facilities could partly explain the rise in the number of reported infections, the agency said in a news release.
Whatever the causes, the report “underscores the widespread potential for patients to acquire serious infections during dialysis care,” the CDC said.