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February 12, 2003
Acupuncture investigation expanded
  
Toronto Public Health is expanding its investigation of a rare skin infection
reported by clients of a Toronto acupuncturist.

During phase two of the investigation, Public Health staff is contacting all
clients treated at acupuncturist Sandra Testaguzza's two Toronto clinics
between January 1, 2000 and March 31, 2002. Phase one focused on clients who
received acupuncture treatments between April 1, 2002 and December 16, 2002.
The investigation is being conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of
Health and Long-Term Care and seven other health units.

"We have received new evidence from clients who experienced symptoms of this
skin infection prior to April 1, 2002. This suggests that acupuncture needles
may have been inadequately sterilized for a longer period of time than
previously indicated, potentially exposing more clients to infection," said Dr.
Barbara Yaffe, Associate Medical Officer of Health.

Six cases of Mycobacterium abscessus have been confirmed in 149 clients
contacted during phase one. An additional 25 suspected cases are being
investigated. Phase two will involve approximately 120 clients who visited
clinics at either 3910 Bathurst St. or 1276 Islington Ave. (a private
residence).

Clients will be informed of potential exposure to the infection and referred to
their physician. The infection occurs on the body where a contaminated needle
is inserted, and can be treated with antibiotics.

"The spread of this infection reinforces the need for all acupuncture
practitioners to ensure safe infection control practices are in place to
protect clients," said Dr. Yaffe.

Consumers should be aware of the need for practitioners to follow basic health
precautions: use only disposable, single-use needles; remove needles from
sealed sterile packages in view of clients; place needles on a sterile tray
before insertion into the skin; and needles should not be placed in any
solution, cotton, foam or other non-sterile environment before use.

Acupuncturists are regulated in BC, Alberta and Quebec, but not in Ontario.
There is no designation or title called "Doctor of Acupuncture." Use of this
title is prohibited under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Clients who have not already been contacted by Public Health and who attended
clinics at either location prior to April 1, 2002 should call 416-338-8400.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe is available today for interviews at 2:30, 277 Victoria St.,
5th Floor.


Media Contact
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health
416-338-7873

 

 

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