10 Apr 2010

Police investigate hepatitis C infections

9:58 pm on 10 April 2010

Australian police are trying to find out whether a doctor deliberately infected 12 women with hepatitis C at a Melbourne abortion clinic.

The women were infected by an anaesthetist at a private abortion clinic between June 2008 and December last year, the ABC reports.

Victoria's chief health officer John Carnie says he cannot explain how 12 people could be infected by accident.

Suspicions were raised when the Victorian Department of Health noticed in December that three women diagnosed with hepatitis C had all been patients of the same clinic, in the suburb of Croydon.

When a further nine cases were linked to the clinic early this year the department notified police.

The doctor has been suspended from practising while the investigation continues and the Medical Practice Board says it is unable to identify him.

Of the 12 women who tested positive to Hepatitis C, two have now cleared the virus from their bloodstreams. The other 10 are at risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer, but Dr Carnie says anti-viral treatment can cure some cases.