- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
- Dengue Fever
- Diarrheal Diseases
- Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
- E. Coli
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Helicobacter Pylori
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Lyme Disease
- Nipah Virus
- West Nile Virus
- Yellow Fever
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.”
Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Although less common, a person also can get a Hepatitis C infection through sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes, and by having sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
Approximately 70 to 80 percent of people with acute Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. However some people exhibit mild to severe symptoms, which can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice, joint pain, and pale or clay-colored bowel movements.
Treatment depends on whether the Hepatitis C infection is acute or chronic. There is no medication available to treat an acute Hepatitis C infection. Doctors usually recommend rest, good nutrition, and fluids.
The treatment used most often for chronic Hepatitis C is a combination of two medicines, interferon and ribavirin. However, not every person with chronic Hepatitis C needs or will benefit from treatment. In addition, the drugs may cause serious side effects in some patients.
Each patient should discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating hepatitis, and people with chronic Hepatitis C should be monitored regularly for signs of liver disease and evaluated for treatment.
Individuals can reduce the risk of Hepatitis C infection by avoiding contact with blood or blood products. Individuals should also avoid the use of injected illicit drugs and sharing needles with others and should be careful when getting tattoos or body piercings. Engaging in stable, monogamous relationships can reduce the risk of infection through sexual transmission. When having sex outside of a monogamous relationship, individuals can reduce their risk of infection by practicing safe sexual behaviors.