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Dean Clinic includes about 720 health care providers located throughout southern Wisconsin. Samitt declined to say where the nurse worked.
Stephanie Smiley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said agency officials learned of the potential exposures Monday morning and have been in contact with the clinic. They also have notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
"This is a very serious situation and it appears that Dean Clinic is taking the appropriate steps to notify patients of possible exposure and performing follow-up testing as necessary," she said in an email.
A CDC spokeswoman had no immediate comment. Officials with the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, which regulates health care providers, declined comment.
In the last few years, poor hygiene practices at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee led to warnings to nearly 13,000 veterans that they should be checked for possible blood borne diseases.
Tests so far have found eight possible infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 61 cases of hepatitis B or C, the VA has said. However, it's not known how many of these cases, if any, were from treatment at VA hospitals or from unrelated causes. Testing often is unable to determine the origin of such infections, and some people may have been infected before their VA care occurred without knowing it.
Hepatitis C infections also can resolve on their own over time. Certain medicines can help the body clear the virus -- why it's important for anyone at potential risk to be tested as soon as possible.
It's not known how common infection breaches like this are at private hospitals. The VA ones came to light because the VA is a government entity and must report such incidents.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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