Hepatitis C by jackie

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Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus:

The virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is found worldwide. The most affected regions are Africa and Central and East Asia.

We have covered hepatitis A and hepatitis B.   Today we will be providing information on C and will give the LINKs.  

we are not doctors but bring to you reliable information from sources and give you the link of the source.  Please refer to a medical professional if ill or have questions

There are estimated to be 95 million infected with HCV in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia,  accounting for a majority (56%) of those chronically infected globally.  The prevalence of the disease is also likely underestimated  as studies in these regions are commonly insufficient and may not represent the general population. source is North American Journal of Medicine and Science 

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source is WHO   World Health Org.

Key facts

  • Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
  • The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices; inadequate sterilization of medical equipment; and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
  • 130–150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Approximately 500 000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases1.
  • Antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
  • There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, and is only very rarely associated with life-threatening disease. About 15–45% of infected persons spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment.

The remaining 55–85% of persons will develop chronic HCV infection. Of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver is 15–30% within 20 years.

Geographical distribution

Hepatitis C is found worldwide. The most affected regions are Africa and Central and East Asia. Depending on the country, hepatitis C infection can be concentrated in certain populations (for example, among people who inject drugs); and/or in general populations. There are multiple strains (or genotypes) of the HCV virus and their distribution varies by region.

Transmission

The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus. It is most commonly transmitted through:

  • injecting drug use through the sharing of injection equipment;
  • in health care settings due to the reuse or inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles;
  • the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products;
  • HCV can also be transmitted sexually and can be passed from an infected mother to her baby; however these modes of transmission are much less common

Hepatitis C is not spread through breast milk, food or water or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing and sharing food or drinks with an infected person.

Symptoms

The incubation period for hepatitis C is 2 weeks to 6 months. Following initial infection, approximately 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-coloured faeces, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes).

Screening and diagnosis

Due to the fact that acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, few people are diagnosed during the acute phase. In those people who go on to develop chronic HCV infection, the infection is also often undiagnosed because the infection remains asymptomatic until decades after infection when symptoms develop secondary to serious liver damage.

After a person has been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C infection, they should have an assessment of the degree of liver damage (fibrosis and cirrhosis). This can be done by liver biopsy or through a variety of non-invasive tests.

In addition, these people should have a laboratory test to identify the genotype of the hepatitis C strain. There are 6 genotypes of the HCV and they respond differently to treatment. Furthermore, it is possible for a person to be infected with more than one genotype. The degree of liver damage and virus genotype are used to guide treatment decisions and management of the disease

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Treatment

Hepatitis C does not always require treatment as the immune response in some people will clear the infection, and some people with chronic infection do not develop liver damage. When treatment is necessary, the goal of hepatitis C treatment is cure. The cure rate depends on several factors including the strain of the virus and the type of treatment given.

The standard of care for hepatitis C is changing rapidly.

Recently, new antiviral drugs have been developed. These medicines, called direct antiviral agents (DAA) are much more effective, safer and better-tolerated than the older therapies. Therapy with DAAs result can cure most persons with HCV infection and treatment is shorter (usually 12 weeks) and safer. Although the production cost of DAAs is low, the initial prices are very high and likely to make access to these drugs difficult even in high-income countries.

Prevention

Primary prevention

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, therefore prevention of HCV infection depends upon reducing the risk of exposure to the virus in health-care settings, in higher risk populations, for example, people who inject drugs, and through sexual contact.

The following list provides a limited example of primary prevention interventions recommended by WHO:

  • hand hygiene: including surgical hand preparation, hand washing and use of gloves;
  • safe handling and disposal of sharps and waste;
  • provision of comprehensive harm-reduction services to people who inject drugs including sterile injecting equipment;
  • testing of donated blood for hepatitis B and C (as well as HIV and syphilis);
  • training of health personnel;
  • promotion of correct and consistent use of condoms.

Secondary and tertiary prevention

For people infected with the hepatitis C virus, WHO recommends:

  • education and counselling on options for care and treatment;
  • immunization with the hepatitis A and B vaccines to prevent coinfection from these hepatitis viruses to protect their liver;
  • early and appropriate medical management including antiviral therapy if appropriate; and
  • regular monitoring for early diagnosis of chronic liver disease.

What can travelers do to prevent hepatitis C?

source is the CDC

Who is at risk?

Hepatitis C is most common in some countries in Asia and Africa, but it occurs in nearly every part of the world (See Map 3-05). The risk to most travelers is low, but travelers could become infected if they receive a transfusion of unscreened blood, have medical or dental procedures in a developing country, get tattoos or piercings or receive acupuncture with needles that are not sterile, or have sex with an infected person.

Protect yourself:

  • Use latex condoms correctly.
  • Do not inject drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
  • Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture. If you do get tattoos, piercings or acupuncture in another country make sure the equipment used is sterile.
  • If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.

Consider medical evacuation insurance:

  • An injury or illness that requires invasive medical or dental treatment (e.g., injection, IV drip, transfusion, stitching) could result in hepatitis C infection if the blood supply is not properly screened.
  • Medical evacuation insurance may cover the cost to transfer you to the nearest destination where complete care can be obtained. Some policies may cover your eventual return to your home country.

 

Travel insurance: simple & flexible

You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

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