Hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by various viruses. There about seven recognized viruses responsible for the infection of the liver:–hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Of these A,B, C, and E are of greatest concern to health practitioners.
Collectively all the types of hepatitis kill about 1.4 million people globally every year. However not much is known by the public about the disease and hence not much is done in the way of prevention on personal level.
We have discussed Hepatitis A and B, today we shall move on to Hepatitis C.
More than 100 million people world-wide are chronically infected by the hepatitis C virus and are therefore carriers; of that, about 15 percent are in North America and Europe with the rest in Africa and Asia.
Hepatitis C is recognized world-wide as the major cause of chronic hepatitis, liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.
1.What Causes Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is caused by Hepatitis C virus, a single stranded RNA virus.
2.How Does Hepatitis C Spread?
Human beings are the main reservoir of the infection. Spread is through transfusion of blood and blood products; it may be transmitted sexually.
The disease may also spread from mother to child during child birth by the mother’s blood passing into the blood of the baby or by the baby swallowing the blood of the mother, any of these could happen during child birth.
It can also spread through the use of contaminated sharp objects for circumcision, scarification tattooing and among drug users.
3.When Do You Suspect You May Have Hepatitis C?
The symptoms and signs of hepatitis C include slight feeling of ill-health, weakness, and yellowness of eyes; suspect Hepatitis especially if someone close to you just had it or is recovering from it.
Incubation period is between 2-24 weeks (average 7-9 weeks).
See a doctor immediately if you have the above symptoms.
4.What Can Put You at Risk.
a. Occupation—Healthcare workers (laboratory scientists, dentists and surgeons).
b. Life style— drug addicts who inject themselves are at high risk
c. Sexual promiscuity, homosexuality
f. Close contact with an infected person
g. Travels to countries where the disease is very common.
5.Possible Complications of Hepatitis C.
Complications of Hepatitis C infection include Chronic liver infection, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and liver failure.
Hepatitis C can be prevented in the following ways:
a.Exercising extreme precaution when treating hepatitis C patients.
b.Avoiding the use of common items such as tooth brushes, foot brushes, razors, and towels.
c.Avoiding contact with infected persons.
d.Avoiding the use of unsterilized sharp objects for nose/ear piercing or scarification.
e.Practicing safe sex by use of condoms
f.Desisting from homosexuality.
g.Regular hand washing with soap and water