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Updated Apr 17, 2013 - 6:39 pm

Testing advised for patients of defunct Tucson-area dental clinic

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Nearly 180 former patients of a now-defunct Marana dental clinic were being advised Wednesday to be tested for blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and the virus that causes AIDS because equipment at the clinic was apparently installed improperly.

The Pima County Health Department announced that it was in the process of contacting 174 dental patients who were seen at the T Dental Clinic between January and July of 2010, when the clinic closed.

Health officials said there's no indication that infections were actually transmitted to patients, and the recommendation for testing is precautionary.

``At this time, there is no evidence that patients were exposed,'' said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County's public health director. ``We are trying to help provide residents with sufficient information so they can take the appropriate steps to feel secure about their health. The only individuals at risk for infection are those who were seen at T Dental Clinic during a very specific period of time.''

The county Health Department has partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to look into the incident and contact patients of the dental office.

Last month in Oklahoma, health officials urged 7,000 patients of an oral surgeon to be tested for possible exposure to hepatitis and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, after finding unsanitary conditions at his Tulsa and Owasso clinics.

The transmission of infectious diseases by dentists and oral surgeons is extremely rare, with only three known cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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