Five incidents of onward transmission of hepatitis B occurred in residential care homes between 2004 and 2007.
The Health Protection Agency is now preparing new guidance for blood-glucose testing in residential care homes.
Agency advice is that when monitoring blood-glucose levels, staff should use either disposable single-use lancing devices, or a non-disposable lancing device that has been specifically designed for use on multiple patients.
Dr Erika Duffell, a consultant with the HPA in Manchester, said hepatitis B was particularly dangerous for elderly people as it has a higher mortality rate. She attributed the outbreaks to careless practise.
‘It is suspected that transmission in these incidents resulted from staff incorrectly using individual patient finger-stick lancet devices for blood-glucose testing. Cross contamination is likely to have occurred during this process,’ she said