Kanawha County sees surge in Hepatitis C cases

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 11:48 AM EDT
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Hepatitis C cases in the West Virginia's largest county have soared to the highest numbers in years, months after a program offering clean needles was suspended, state Health Department data shows.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Monday that more than 1,100 new chronic cases of the disease were recorded in Kanawha County in 2018.

Local clinic director Letitia Tierney said the area is nearing a hepatitis C outbreak and a potential HIV outbreak because of needle sharing. Officials didn't immediately release HIV numbers.

The county suspended its free needle-exchange program in March 2018 after Charleston police said they would be enacting tighter regulations.

The program had been credited with helping reduce hepatitis C cases.

Some new cases could include residents who had the disease before their 2018 diagnosis, county health official Janet Briscoe said.

Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,