What patients should do after DHEC spine center warning

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, three people in the Lowcountry have now contracted Hepatitis B. DHEC officials said about 500 more Tri-County Spine patients are at risk and should get tested.

Dr. Michael Kilby is the chief of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina. He said all three diseases are transmitted through blood, though Hepatitis B is the easiest to be transmitted. But he said on average a blood test may not read the disease until one has been infected for about three months.

"That makes it challenging to link anything back to a health procedure," he said.

Symptoms may include fever, nausea or jaundice. But, some people may not have any symptoms.

But how could this happen?

Kilby is not connected to Tri-County Spine, but he said cost-saving measures could be a culprit.

"If there's a medicine that can have multi-doses, then a hospital can use one bottle of medicine and share between multiple patients. But of course to do that, you have to be very cautious," he said.

Multi-dose vials are not necessarily dangerous, but providers must always use a fresh needle, he said. Kilby recommended patients to ask about this if they're getting injections.

"You want your needle to have come out of a closed package that you know was sealed and sterilized," he said.

In a statement, a chiropractic physician at Tri-County Spine said the clinic uses "pre-packaged sterile supplies." He called the situation "shocking" and "perplexing."

Tri-County Spine representatives said they have stopped doing invasive treatments and are working with DHEC. As of Thursday, they said they have no updated numbers of patients who have been tested.

Kilby also said Hepatitis B is curable for most people.