A doctor with hepatitis B who performed joint replacement surgeries unknowingly passed the virus on to at least two of his patients, according to a new report.
The report, issued by researchers at the University of Virginia Health System, said the surgeon first became aware that he had hepatitis B after he stuck himself with a needle, and underwent routine testing for blood-borne diseases. The surgeon had emigrated from a country that had a high prevalence of hepatitis B, and likely had had chronic hepatitis B for some time without showing symptoms, such as fever and nausea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the surgeon's hospital began an investigation to identify and test all of the patients that the surgeon has treated during the previous nine months — the length of time he had worked at the hospital. Most of the surgeon's patients had undergone either hip or knee replacement surgery.
Out of 232 patients who were tested, two were found to be infected with a hepatitis B virus that was genetically identical to the one seen in the surgeon, meaning these two patients most likely caught the virus from the doctor. These patients were treated with drugs.