- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - A health care organization in southwest Alaska is offering a second round of free blood tests to dental patients who may have been exposed to infectious diseases after partially sanitized dental tools were used at a clinic in September.

Thirteen of 191 patients treated over an eight-day period in September are believed to have come in contact with the partially sterilized instruments, KYUK-AM reported (http://bit.ly/2jO36s9) Monday.

The Bethel-based Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation asked those patients to undergo testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. The viruses take up to several months to detect after infection.

About 150 patients chose to get tested last fall. The second round of testing will determine if any new viruses have developed that can be linked to the dental tools.

State and federal officials have said the risk of infection from the instruments is low.

Since last year’s mishap, the dental clinic has made changes to ensure all instruments are fully sterilized before being used.

The dental clinic created four sterilization technician positions and now requires both the dental assistant and the provider to verify that all instruments have been thoroughly sanitized.

The health corporation is also implementing recent recommendations on its sterilization procedures from a consultant systemwide.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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