Thirty patients with kidney failure who went to the Kafr El-Zayat Public Hospital in Gharbeya, Egypt, were diagnosed with Hepatitis C – with initial investigations suggesting they were infected from unclean dialysis filters used in the haemodyalisis therapy they were on.
The patients were found to carry the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) during a 3-month regular blood screening.
Amr Helmy, the Egyptian health minister, commented in a statement to the press that the dialysis filters were probably not the culprit, since “they can transfer Hepatitis B, but not Hepatitis C.”
However, Medhat Khalil, a private nephrologist, commented during an interview on the Sabah On TV show on OnTV channel that this is not true. “Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV can all be transferred through haemodialysis machines. I’m not sure why the health minister said that but maybe he was misquoted.”
Pictures taken from within the kidney dialysis room and displayed during the show have a technician and a nurse wearing their normal clothes, with no gloves, masks or overshoes. The walls and floors were also unclean.
“Unclean equipment, such as the dialysis machines – and not just the filters – is an issue that desperately needs to be raised in Egypt,” added Khalil.
“We need simple procedures. Any patient who is diagnosed with kidney failure must be screened for HCV, HBV and HIV before he’s put on the dialysis machine. If they are found to carry any of these viruses then they must be put on specified machines set apart and labeled accordingly,” he continued.
The health ministry has launched an investigation into the incidence to determine how the patients were infected. Some doctors at the hospital have suggested that a batch of erythropoietin, a drug given to patients with chronic kidney diseases, imported from China may have been infected with HCV rather than the dialysis machines.