Dozens of Oklahoma dental patients have been diagnosed with hepatitis C and at least one case of HIV, state health officials said Thursday, four weeks after finding a multitude of health code violations, including rusty tools, at a dental practice in Tulsa.
Authorities said they were still determining whether the infections were connected with unsanitary practices at W. Scott Harrington’s two offices in Tulsa and a Tulsa suburb, which prompted officials to notify 7,000 of the dentist's patients.
Of the 3,122 patients tested thus far, 57 tested positive for hepatitis C, three tested positive for hepatitis B, and at least one person tested positive for HIV, officials said. (State health rules prohibit reporting specific HIV cases that number fewer than three, but officials confirmed that patients had tested positive.)
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C have been connected with liver disease, and HIV is the precursor for AIDS. All three are commonly transmitted through blood, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls hepatitis B transmission a "major concern" for dentists, yet notes that transmission in the U.S. has been rare since regulatory controls were implemented in the 1980s.