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Thousands possibly exposed to hepatitis at West Virginia heart clinic

West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources is calling for thousands of people to get tested in the wake of a possible hepatitis outbreak linked to a local health clinic.

The department has sent out 2,300 letters to patients who may have been exposed to viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C, according to CBS affiliate WOWK.

An investigation has linked cases of viral hepatitis to the Raleigh Heart Clinic, in Beckley, West Virginia, according to a letter from Toby Wagoner, the public relations officer for the Bureau for Public Health.

Patients who underwent a stress test between March 1, 2012, and March 27, 2015, at the cardiac clinic are in the process of being notified.

"Two groups of hepatitis C infections (affecting eight patients receiving cardiac stress tests on three different days) and two groups of hepatitis B infections (affecting four patients receiving cardiac stress tests on two different days) have been identified among patients who had injectable medications administered during their stress tests at the clinic," the letter said.

As a precaution, the department is recommending that all patients potentially affected be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV, the Associated Press reported.

Viral hepatitis is a serious liver infection and some forms can lead to a chronic condition and liver failure.

The investigation has not turned up any evidence of transmission of HIV.

The Register-Herald newspaper, in Beckley, West Virginia, is reporting that some patients have filed a class action lawsuit in Raleigh County Circuit Court against the clinic involved.

Concerned patients and healthcare providers can call the Bureau for Public Health Information at 800-642-8244 or contact their local health department.

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