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Hepatitis C

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis is defined as the inflammation of the liver. The vital organ plays an important role in the processing of food, enzyme secretion, residual cleaning and metabolism of medicines. Any damage or inflammation of the liver affects the body functions, affecting the body functions.  Heavy alcohol toxins, strong medications and autoimmune conditions cause hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic and is only very rarely associated with the life-threatening disease.

Many people are not aware of acute conditions, which further develop into the chronic illness, causing severe problems like liver cancer, liver failure.

 

Transmission:

Hepatitis C is a blood prone virus. The common modes of transmission are:

  • Injecting drug through similar syringes
  • using again or insufficient sterilization of medical equipment, like syringes, needles in primary healthcare centres
  • Transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products
  • Clotting factors of unscreened value
  • Sexually transmitted from mother to child from womb, only if the mother is infected.

Risk groups for hepatitis C:

  • Patients undergoing dialysis for longer term
  • Healthcare co-workers who have blood exposure like needle stick to an infected person on their job
  • Children born to HCV-infected mother
  • People having multiple sex partners
  • Received a blood from an already suffering HCV patient

The symptoms are:

  • Fatigue Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint Pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Clay-colored stool

These symptoms may appear about 6 to 8 weeks after exposure, but this time period can vary among individuals

HCV infection is diagnosed in 2 steps:

  1. Screening meant for anti-HCV antibodies with a serological test that identifies people who have been infected by way of the virus.
  2. If the test is positive for anti-HCV antibodies, a nucleic acid test for HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) is essential to authenticate chronic contamination

 

Prevention

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

Primary prevention measures include:

  • Hand hygiene: with surgical hand preparation, hand washing and use of gloves;
  • Safe and proper use of health care injections;
  • protected handling and discarding of surgical sharps and waste;
  • Comprehensive harm-reduction services to individuals who inject drugs as well as sterile injecting equipment;
  • Testing and analysis of donated blood for hepatitis B and C (and for HIV and syphilis);
  • Comprehensive training of health personnel
  • Encouragement of the correct and regular use of condoms.

 

Secondary prevention measures include:

  • Patient-centric education and counselling on options for care and treatment;
  • Complete immunization with the hepatitis A and B vaccines to avert co-infection from these hepatitis viruses and to shield their liver;
  • Early and suitable medical management together with antiviral therapy
  • Standard monitoring for near the beginning diagnosis of chronic liver disease.
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