Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– An outbreak of hepatitis C in New Hampshire is now linked to a medical technician who once worked at several Maryland hospitals. At least 30 people in New Hampshire have contracted the virus.
Meghan McCorkell more on this disturbing story.
David Kwiatkowski was a traveling medical technician who worked at four Maryland hospitals. None of those hospitals has linked any hepatitis cases to him. But they are taking precautions.
Investigators say David Kwiatkowski, 32, stole drugs from Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. He used syringes to inject himself– syringes that were then used on patients who contracted his hepatitis C.
“This serial infector has been contained and the menace posed to public health and safety has been removed,” U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said.
At least 30 Exeter patients have now tested positive.
“My daughter just got married. She’s going to have children in the future. Who knows if I’ll be around for them,” one victim said.
Before New Hampshire, Kwiatkowski worked at four Maryland hospitals– Maryland General, Southern Maryland, Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Johns Hopkins.
Kwiatkowski worked at Johns Hopkins from July 2009 to January 2010.
The hospital tells WJZ 200 patients were treated in the lab at that time.
As a precaution, Hopkins is contacting those patients and offering free hepatitis testing. However, initial reports reveal no clusters or unusual groupings of hepatitis C.
“That’s very scary to think of it. You go to a hospital and we assume that is one of the safest places to go,” Dr. Paul Thuluvath, who specializes in the virus, said.
Thuluvath says that while it is treatable, hepatitis can be deadly.
“That is one of the main causes of liver cancer in this country– hepatitis C,” he said.
It’s a serious health risk that federal officials say came at the hands of someone patients trusted.
Federal officials say they believe Kwiatkowski contracted hepatitis in June 2010. That is after he left the state of Maryland.
All four Maryland hospitals are contacting patients who may have come in contact with Kwiatkowski. No hepatitis cases have been linked to him here in Maryland.