Health chiefs are urging patients to be screened for Hepatitis B after discovering a case of infection in a hospital ward.

NHS Tayside has contacted 36 patients who were in the ward at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee earlier this year asking them to go to their GP and have a blood test.

It said that the tests were a precaution and that the risk of infection was low.

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and is spread mainly by contact with the blood of a person infected with the virus.

Dr Kirsty Licence, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Tayside, said: “We are asking patients to arrange a blood test as a precautionary measure and I would stress that the risk of infection in these circumstances is low.

“We have undertaken a thorough investigation of this particular infection and have not identified any clear means by which this infection was acquired.

“No new infections with this particular strain of hepatitis B have been identified during our investigations to date.

“This means that we have no reason to think that anyone else may have acquired this infection but we are taking a cautious approach and we believe precautionary testing is the most sensible in these circumstances.”

She said that the health board has already made contact with all those patients involved, and their GPs, directly.

Dr Licence added: “There is no increased risk to the wider public.”

The health board is not specifying when the 36 people were in hospital to protect their identity.