13 hepatitis infections confirmed in Anhui

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A infected child is being treated at a hospital in Hefei 

 An infected child is being treated at a hospital in Hefei

A Hepatitis C epidemic has broken out among 56 children in Woyang county in Bozhou, Anhui Province, and may have been caused by the use of unsterilized syringe needles at a private clinic, said local health authorities.

According to a Xinhua news agency report yesterday, 56 potential carriers of the virus were examined and 13 were tested positive.

Parents in Woyang often take their kids to the nearby Miaoqian clinic in Maqiao, Henan Province, to see doctors. The infected children all received injections at the clinic, according to a preliminary investigation by the Anhui health administration.

Angry parents claimed doctors used a single syringe needle for dozens of children without sterilizing it.

Five-year-old Hengheng was the first to be diagnosed with hepatitis after a routine check-up two weeks ago. He was transferred to a hospital in the provincial capital, Hefei, last week.

His father, Zhang Yinping, said the boy could not sleep and cried at night. "His hands have swelled up with days of drips," he added.

The infected children are being treated at hospitals in Hefei, Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease primarily affecting the liver. It usually spreads through contact with infected blood and there is no vaccine for it.

Most of those infected have no symptoms until the virus causes liver damage, which can take 10 or more years to occur.

Though some people can fight off the virus, most Hepatitis C infections become chronic. Without treatment, chronic Hepatitis C can scar the liver and lead to liver cancer or liver failure.


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