Another person has tested positive for hepatitis B since the state health department started investigating a medical clinic in North Charleston in May, the Department of Health and Environmental Control confirmed.

It brings the total number of Tri-County Spinal Care Center patients who have tested positive for the infectious disease to 19.

DHEC launched an investigation into Tri-County Spinal Care Center this spring when three patients who received similar injections on the same days in February were diagnosed with hepatitis B.

To date, DHEC has notified about 600 other current and former patients that they should be tested too.

“We identified breaches in infection control practices that could have resulted in the contamination of medication that was administered to multiple patients and served as a possible source of infection,” said DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley.

Still, it’s virtually impossible to confirm that the clinic is the source of these 19 infections, he said.

Hepatitis B affects the liver. Sometimes the disease clears on its own; in other cases it develops into a lifelong condition and can cause liver cancer.

More than half of these 19 hepatitis B cases already have cleared, Beasley said. Only one patient has developed chronic hepatitis B.

A message left for Tri-County Spinal Care Center owner Cameron Wills was not returned.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.