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Public Health Response – Situation Update 23

TULSA, OK – [October 17, 2013, 10:30 a.m. CST] – The Oklahoma State Department of Health and Tulsa Health Department announced today that findings from genetic testing of HIV specimens from former patients of the W. Scott Harrington dental surgical practice have been deemed inconclusive for potential connection to the practice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specimens from three of four Harrington patients testing positive for HIV were submitted to CDC for genetic analysis in an effort to determine if the source of infections was related to the clinic.

Last month the two public health agencies released an interim status report on results of their public health investigation of the W. Scott Harrington dental surgical practice, which indicated that genetic-based testing of patient specimens by CDC confirmed one event of patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis C virus had occurred in the practice. This is the first documented report of patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis C virus associated with a dental setting in the United States.  

On March 28, public health officials announced they were notifying current and former patients of the practice that they may have been exposed to blood-borne viruses at Harrington’s Tulsa and Owasso offices. Health officials recommended these patients have their blood drawn for testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infection at free screening clinics established at the Tulsa Health Department, Oklahoma City-County Health Department and other county health departments in the state. The free screening clinics were available through June 28.

In total, the Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory completed testing for 4,208 persons. Ninety patients tested positive for hepatitis C, 6 for hepatitis B, and 4 for HIV.  An unknown number of persons also sought testing through their private health care provider.

A final report summarizing the oral healthcare-associated public health investigation and response is underway.

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