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Vital Signs

India hepatitis death toll reaches 38

  • Story Highlights
  • An outbreak of contagious liver disease hepatitis B kills 38 people in India
  • The victims died in the state of Gujarat in western India in the past two weeks
  • Officials have recorded 125 cases of the infection
  • Doctor is facing attempted murder charge
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From Harmeet Shah Singh
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- The death toll from an outbreak of hepatitis B in India's western Gujarat state reached 38 on Sunday as authorities prepared to begin a vaccination drive against the disease.

Hepatitis-B patient Mahir Husain, center, is comforted by his father, right, and another relative at The Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, Wednesday.

Hepatitis-B patient Mahir Husain, center, is comforted at a hospital in Ahmedabad.

Malayappan Thennarasa, the top administrator of the affected Sabarkantha district, told CNN the toll had climbed to 38 and that shots would be administered free of cost starting Monday.

Health officials have recorded 125 cases of the infection in two weeks.

Authorities were carrying out raids at medical stores for bogus drugs and recycled syringes.

Police have so far arrested five medical practitioners. One of them was charged Sunday with attempted murder. The doctor is accused of reusing syringes, Thennarasa said.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease resulting from infection with the hepatitis B virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It usually spreads through blood, semen, or other bodily fluids, often through sexual contact or sharing needles or syringes with an infected person.

The disease can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, chronic illness resulting in long-term health problems or death, the CDC said.

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