Four Maryland hepatitis C cases linked to infected worker

Four more Maryland patients have been diagnosed with a strain of hepatitis C closely related to the one that a former traveling hospital worker is accused of spreading through infected needles, Maryland health officials announced Friday.

The four were patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital from July 10, 2009 to Jan. 9, 2010, when David Kwiatkowski was working there. One patient of the Baltimore VA Medical Center has been previously identified as having been infected with a closely related virus.

The five are among approximately 1,700 patients of four Maryland hospitals who faced potential exposure because they had procedures in which Kwiatkowski was involved. The four hospitals are the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland General Hospital and MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with the blood-borne viral infection through contaminated syringes. He worked as a traveling technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states. More than 40 people in four states have been diagnosed with virus closely related to the strain he is accused of spreading.

He was arrested in July and has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs. He remains jailed in New Hampshire.

Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on health.

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