There have been numerous reports today about a health care worker in a major Melbourne hospital having been diagnosed with hepatitis B and the possibility that some patients may have been at risk of infection. The Victorian Government Department of Health is following up with 654 people who may have come into contact with the health care worker.
At this stage, the hospital involved has not been named, and no hotline has been established, which may be leaving many people to wonder if they have been at risk. It is important to remember that hepatitis B is a blood-borne and sexually transmissible virus. This means that for transmission to occur there has to be opportunity for an exchange of blood or unprotected sexual contact between and infected person and another person.
As stated in an ABC News article by Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Roscoe Taylor "This is entirely precautionary as there are no reports of any patient contracting hepatitis B from the health care worker, but we are erring on the side of caution. We're in the process of making sure that anyone who might have had an exposure-prone-procedure from this health worker that is a procedure where there has been a clinical procedure that might have led to blood contamination. We're making sure that they're aware that they're at a very low risk, but not a zero risk of contracting hepatitis B."
The Department has since advised that only people who have been directly contacted by them need to be concerned about a risk of exposure. Notification is being made by registered mail and should be received by tomorrow, Friday 15 April at the very latest, with most people already having received notification.
If you are in Victoria and would like to talk to someone about hepatitis B you can contact Hepatitis Victoria on 1800 703 003