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Healthline Takes Calls From NZers Over Hep C Scare

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Healthline Takes Calls From NZers Over Hep C Scare

Wellington, June 9 NZPA - Healthline has taken 59 calls from New Zealand women who believe they could have contracted hepatitis C from an Australian abortion clinic, the Ministry of Health says.

The calls to Healthline came after media coverage and advertisements urged the 55 New Zealanders at risk of contracting the disease from Croydon Day Surgery, in Melbourne's northeast, where anaesthetist James Peters worked between 2006 and late last year to come forward.

Ministry of Health director of public health Fran McGrath said 49 of the calls were transferred to the Australian hepatitis C help line, which would help the women find out if they had any risk of contracting the disease from the infected doctor.

Women who were confirmed as being at risk would be taken to a New Zealand specialist for testing, counselling and treatment if required, she said.

The ministry was aware that testing for hepatitis C on some New Zealand women had gone ahead but did not know the numbers of tests or the results.

"I can't emphasise enough that this is a sensitive and concerning situation and the Ministry of Health here and health authorities in Australia are being careful to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the women involved", Dr McGrath said.

"Our priority remains to encourage women to come forward so they can be tested and treated if needed," she said

The total number of women who could have contracted the disease from Dr Peters was about 3500 women, including 55 New Zealanders.

Dr Peters is being investigated by Victorian police and the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria over his patients' infections. There is an identical genetic match to his own hepatitis C strain in at least 44 of the cases.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation of the liver and which can have serious complications.

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