The Health Service Executive has confirmed it has begun to trace what hospitals in the State a locum consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology infected with the Hepatitis C virus worked.

The male consultant, employed via a locum agency, worked in various hospitals since before 2008.

It is understood the HSE was made aware in recent days of the doctor’s infection with Hep C, and it warned hospitals he should not be engaged in any procedures where there was a possible risk to patients of infection.

Hep C, which is blood-borne, is primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood or blood products.

The doctor is not currently working in the State, but an HSE expert group has been established to investigate where he previously worked and what procedures he carried out.

In a statement, the HSE said the risk for patients of acquiring the Hep C infection from a healthcare worker is low, although Department of Health guidelines on the prevention of blood-borne diseases document cases of such infection in Europe and the United States.

A group representing women infected with Hepatitis C via contaminated blood products has called for all patients of the doctor to be informed of his status and to be tested for the virus.

Detta Warnock, of Positive Action, said anyone potentially infected should be given full information and offered tests to rule out infection.