CDC links hepatitis C to infusion therapy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta reported last month that home health agencies should take extra precautions in educating patients and caregivers about the proper techniques in home infusion therapy.

Caregivers should be taught to wear gloves and follow universal precautions to prevent the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and other infectious diseases.

Also, the families’ infusion therapy and infection-control practices should be evaluated regularly at home during follow-up visits with nurses and other health care professionals who have specific training in such practices. Caregivers need to be told that any needlestick accidents must be reported to the home health agency or the physician.

The recommendation followed disclosure that a 4-year-old with hemophilia contracted the HCV during exposure to the mother’s blood during infusion of clotting-factor concentrate.1

The mother had a history of having injected illicit drugs and has HCV-infected blood.

The CDC report says the child’s mother had begun to administer clotting-factor concentrate to the child beginning in November 1994. She had been trained by a nurse employed by a home health care agency.

The infection probably occurred between February 1995 and June 1996 when the mother administered the concentrate to the boy 13 times. The mother reported that until May 1996, the boy resisted treatment, and three other people had to restrain him. The infusions took 3 hours to complete.

Twice, the mother said she had pricked her finger and drew blood while attempting an infusion. She didn’t wear gloves. CDC investigators ruled out other sources of transmission.

CDC scientists analyzed the HCV strains in the mother and child and found that they were identical.

Reference

1. Transmission of hepatitis C virus infection associated with home infusion therapy for hemophilia. MMWR, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. July 4, 1997; Vol. 46.