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95 patients infected with hepatitis C linked to Chinese clinic

BEIJINGNinety-five people have been hospitalized after a private clinic gave them injections suspected to be contaminated with hepatitis C, Chinese state media say.

The official Xinhua News Agency says 120 patients who received treatment at the clinic in Liaoning province were traced and screened for the disease and 95 of those are suspected to have been infected with hepatitis C.

It said Tuesday that local authorities were tipped off that patients who had received varicose vein treatment could be infected. It says the case is being investigated.

The hepatitis C virus causes a liver disease which can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

Hepatitis C contamination tied to health care facilities has been a recent concern in the United States.

Last year, traveling lab techDavid Kwiatkowskiwas charged with stealing syringes of the powerful painkiller fentanyl from the cardiac catheterization lab at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his own blood. Thirty-two people in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that Kwiatkowski carries, along with six in Kansas, five in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania.

In January 2012, two western New York hospitals warned its insulin pens may have been used by multiple patients, potentially risking more than 2,600 patients with bloodborne infections such as hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

More than 150,000 U.S. patients have been impacted by unsafe injection practices since 2001, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causing serious health damage by exposing patients to bloodborne illnesses, such as hepatitis and HIV, and to life-threatening bacterial infections.