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Only about 35 percent of patients get tested after potential hep C exposures at 2 Utah hospitals

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Posted at 8:25 PM, Jan 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-31 23:26:51-05

OGDEN, Utah -- Thousands of patients at both McKay-Dee Hospital and Davis Hospital could have been exposed to hepatitis C, and though Sunday marks the last official day for free testing, the hospital stated those who received letters can get the free test for the foreseeable future.

Thousands of letters went out to patients, instructing them to come back to the hospital to be tested, and now there are confirmed positive cases.

An Ogden McKay-Dee Hospital spokesperson says, along with 7,200 letters mailed out to patients, the hospital also called each potentially exposed patient two to three times.

Those potentially affected were patients at the hospital between June of 2013 and November of 2014, during which time a nurse with hepatitis C was working both there and at Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton.

Hepatitis C can be transmitted through sharing needles. The virus gets into the blood stream and then eventually attacks the liver. The problem with hepatitis c is, by the time it's diagnosed, it is usually too late.

"People will have no symptoms for decades and then all of the sudden their liver will start failing and that’s a deadly part of the disease,” said Angela Dunn with the Utah Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So it’s important to be identified early in the disease course when people don’t have symptoms, so they can get effective treatment.”

As of early January, only 2,520 of the 7,200 patients who received letters have taken advantage of the free testing window.

Those who did receive a letter, or who are worried they could have been exposed, can go to McKay-Dee Hospital any time and ask to get the free test.