Hepatitis scare in Ocean County

April 1, 2009 2:57:19 PM PDT
Almost three thousand people in Ocean County must get tested for hepatitis b. Health officials report five cases in the country this year. They share one common denominator. All five are patients of the same doctor's office in Toms River.

"The first thing I did was call my husband. I was terrified," Linda Bradford said.

Patients and spouses of patients were rolling into Dr. Parvez Dara's oncology office for prescriptions to have blood tests for hepatitis B, as recommended by the health department. It sparked a rush of concern.

The Ocean County Health Department would not name Dr. Dara's office directly, but Dr. Ella Boyd of the department issued a statement, which read:

"Five people who tested positive for the blood borne illness since February were treated at the same doctor's office, so 28-hundred more patients were sent the letters as well."

Dr. Dara is still treating patients. His attorney disputes any suggestion that the hepatitis B outbreak originated at the doctor's office.

"Two of the cases had absolutely nothing to do with the doctor's office. They were treated with chemotherapy at the same hospital," attorney Robert Conroy said.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease spread by contact with infected blood or other body fluids.

Mild cases can cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, vomiting and jaundice. The most serious forms can cause liver cancer or liver failure.

The health department wants anyone who received the letter to be tested as soon as possible.

You can learn more about hepatitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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