Nurses organising infectious disease testing for children at risk from the Pukekohe contaminated dental water scare are trying to contact the remaining 10 per cent of families not yet reached.

At first it was thought around 2500 children who attended Pukekohe Intermediate Dental Clinic between September 13 and January 23 could be at risk of catching an infectious disease because of faulty dental equipment.

Those whose care involved compressed air, a drill, extraction or suction are being offered testing for blood-borne viral infections, in particular hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The Counties Manukau District Health Board said there is a chance, although very small, that children who had undergone those types of care were exposed to unsterilised water which may have contained blood or saliva from other children.


The DHB and the Auckland Regional Dental Service said today that specialist public health nurses from the DHB had contacted nearly 90 per cent of the families' children who attended the clinic between September 13 and January 23, when it closed.

The majority of them had been tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV.

"Overall, the response from parents and caregivers has been very considered given the anxiety they must have experienced," said the DHB's chief medical officer, Dr Gloria Johnson.

"We are very grateful for their patience and support through what has been a difficult situation."

The focus of the public health response is now shifting to those whom DHB staff have not yet been able to contact.

"We have tried to make contact with some families multiple times with no success," Johnson said. "We are aware of a small number who are out of the area and overseas and have made plans for them.

"We are now calling for all families who have not yet been tested to please drop in to our specialist clinic at Pukekohe Hospital anytime between 9am to 5pm this weekend, or from 12pm until 6pm any day next week."

This request only applies to those families whose children attended the Pukekohe Intermediate Dental Clinic from September 13 until January 23 and who have not been tested.

The specialist clinic at the Pukekohe Intermediate Dental Clinic site will close today to consolidate all resources on to the Pukekohe Hospital site.

Johnson said clinic hours will also change to reflect the reduction in the number of children who remain to be tested.

The regional dental service has not yet decided when it will reopen the dental clinic to provide dental services.

Johnson said children who were last seen in the dental clinic after October 23 are likely to require two blood tests. The second blood test should be three months after the last dental appointment to ensure all infection is excluded.

Blood test request forms will be sent to all parents whose child may require a second test so they can go directly to the Labtests collection centre. All results would be reviewed by DHB specialists and sent to the child's family doctor.

"There have been no cases of infection identified so far amongst those tests analysed and reported back to families," Johnson said.

"These results confirm our initial advice that the risk to these children is extremely low."

Concerned parents are encouraged to ring Healthline on 0800 611 116.