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N.H. attorney claims client contracted hepatitis in 2008


PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire attorney said a client contracted hepatitis C from a traveling hospital worker two years earlier than has been previously alleged he began spreading the disease.

Portsmouth attorney Michael Rainboth represents five patients who allegedly were infected by medical technician David Kwiatkowski, who's been charged with tampering with needles and infecting at least 31 people.

Rainboth told the Portsmouth Herald his newest client, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran, was infected in 2008 at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the hospital is taking responsibility. Prosecutors have said the earliest evidence Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C was in 2010.

The hospital on its website said 168 patients had procedures involving Kwiatkowski in 2008, and that it's offered free hepatitis testing to 51 of them.

Kwiatkowski also worked at Hays Medical Center from May 24, 2010, to Sept. 22, 2010. Three patients at HaysMed have tested positive for a strain of the hepatitis C virus that closely is related to the strain carried by Kwiatkowski, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He tested positive for hepatitis C in June 2010, after visiting a doctor in Salina.

Kwiatkowsk was arrested July 19 in New Hampshire and is charged with illegally obtaining drugs and tampering with a consumer product. He is accused of stealing drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes that were used on patients.