November 12, 2014, by Lindsay Brooke
22000 dental patients recalled – a huge scientific detective task says virologist
Giving his reaction to the recall of 22,000 dental patients, Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at The University of Nottingham warns if patients do test positive for any virus then it won’t be clear where their virus came from and trying to work that out will be a huge scientific detective task.
Professor Ball said: “There are very strict procedures in place to protect patients from possible cross-infection by blood-borne viruses, such as HCV, HBV and HIV, during dental procedures and it appears that these weren’t being followed by the dentist.
“The dentist tested negative for these viruses, so it seems that the real concern is that lapses in infection control measures might have put people at risk from cross-infection from other patients potentially infected with a virus.
“The prevalence of these infections in the general population is low and the transmission risk from most dental procedures would also be low, but the risk is still real and so it is right for the NHS to screen. This won’t be easy as the dentist has been treating patients for decades.
“If any of the patients recalled do test positive for any virus then it won’t be clear where their virus came from; and trying to work that out will be a huge scientific detective task.”
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