At least 56 people in two adjacent villages in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province were diagnosed with the infection of hepatitis C virus, health authorities said.
Fifty-six out of 408 people who voluntarily had blood tests in Ninggu and Gucheng villages in Hailin City, were confirmed to be infected with hepatitis C, according to the Mudanjiang City Disease Control and Prevention Center.
Ninggu and adjacent Gucheng, have a population of 579. The hepatitis C infection cases began to be found as early as 2003 in the two villages.
The center said the village's clinic had poor sanitation and its doctor used medical equipment which either failed to have strict disinfection or exceeded their expiration dates.
Villagers said the exact number of the infected cases should be bigger as some refused to take the tests for fear of discrimination. Some put the total number at 98.
Hepatitis C is a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic liver disease, including liver cancer.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2009)