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Hepatitis information: NH public should have more of it

July 23. 2012 6:55PM

It is good that law enforcement authorities have made an arrest in the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. That being said, it is unfortunate and counterproductive that those officials as well as public health officials seem to consider the public as children who should be told as little as possible about this significant threat to public health.

Case in point: Dr. Jose Montero, state public health director, says the suspect has worked as a traveling technician at laboratories in at least six states. Montero says he has been in touch with authorities in those six states. And what are those six states? Montero won't say.

Right. Wouldn't want the public to know more information about the previous whereabouts of this modern-day Typhoid Mary.

Likewise, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said he would not identify the other states where the suspect, David Matthew Kwiatkowski, had worked. Kacavas said officials in those other states should make those decisions.

Really? Kacavas also told our Sunday News that one of the hospitals in one of those states that he won't identify had caught the suspect 'red-handed,'' but did not have him prosecuted. So much for the sound decisions of others.

Kacavas also declined to name the company that had hired Kwiatkowski as a contract employee working at various facilities across the country.

The Union Leader found out that the company appears to be Triage Staffing out of Omaha, Neb. It has had no comment. The Union Leader and other news media have also spoken with hospitals in Michigan, Maryland and Georgia that believe the man worked there.

In a public health emergency, and this is certainly the case here, the more information the public has, the more informed the public is, and the more likely that the full picture of what has happened here and who might still be at risk is developed. Lives might actually be saved.

The fact that some public officials can't see that, that they seem much more intent on making excuses for withholding information, is regrettable and insults the intelligence of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Public Safety Health Editorial

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