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Disease-spreading tech worked in multiple states

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A traveling hospital technician accused of causing a hepatitis C outbreak in New Hampshire previously worked in Maryland and Michigan health care facilities, officials said Friday.

A spokesman for The Johns Hopkins Hospital said David Kwiatkowski worked in the cardiac catheterization lab at the Baltimore hospital from July 2009 to January 2010. Spokesman Gary Stephenson said the hospital is contacting all patients who may have come in contact with Kwiatkowski to offer them free testing for hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health issues.

In Michigan, the state Department of Community Health confirmed that Kwiatkowski had worked there, though officials were still figuring out exact locations.

Kwiatkowski, who grew up in Michigan, worked as a "traveler" sent by staffing agencies to hospitals around the country, usually for temporary jobs. In announcing federal drug charges Thursday, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas called him a "serial infector" who has worked in at least six states since 2007. Authorities have not publicly identified the others.

Kwiatkowski, who worked at Exeter Hospital's cardiac lab from April 2011 until this past May, is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from the lab, injecting himself and contaminating syringes that were later used on patients, 30 of whom have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C Kwiatkowski carries.

Though he told investigators he was diagnosed in May, authorities said there is evidence that he has had the disease since at least June 2010.

According to court documents, Kwiatkowski told investigators he did not steal drugs, is "not a shooter," and is scared of needles. He also said he was allergic to fentanyl, the powerful anesthetic he's accused of stealing, though medical records indicate he was given the drug during a medical procedure in 2011.

"I did not take any drugs or do any drugs ... and I'm gonna stick to that," he told investigators. When he was told that a syringe bearing a fentanyl label was found in a bag in his vehicle, he said it was not his and suggested that it had been planted by a co-worker.

Kwiatkowski also said he "lied to a lot of people" and "fabricated my life," saying two of the biggest lies he had told were claiming he played baseball at the University of Michigan and that his fiancée had died.

Former co-workers in other states told investigators that Kwiatkowski was known for telling false stories, including saying that he had cancer. According to the affidavit, he was fired for falsifying his timesheets at one hospital, was accused of stealing fentanyl from a hospital operating room in 2008 and aroused significant suspicion in Exeter.