Hepatitis C: Its Epidemiology, Risk Factors And Control Strategies

Hepatitis viruses are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E virus. All of these have different causative agent and route if transmission.

By: Tehzeeb Asghar

In the era of modern science where scientist are successfully defeating so many life threatening diseases but still there are some contagious disease are there causing illness in humans that may lead to serious damage . Hepatitis is one of them. Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by hepatitis virus. In case of chronic infection it may lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Classification:

Hepatitis viruses are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E virus. All of these have different causative agent and route if transmission. Hepatitis A: caused by hepatitis A virus. It transmitted through oral fecal route. Consumption of contaminated food is the major cause of Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A doesn’t require special treatment and medication. Vaccination for HAV is available. Hepatitis B: Caused by hepatitis B virus and transmitted through body fluids. Acute hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral chronic infection of liver can lead to serious damage. Vaccination for hepatitis B is available and and given with vaccination of hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C virus is a blood born pathogen. It causes liver inflammation and transmitted through body fluids Caused by HCV. Hepatitis D: Hepatitis D also known as delta virus . Hepatitis D virus is the rare type of virus which require co infection of hepatitis B virus to multiply  and to cause liver infection. Hepatitis E: It is the rare type of hepatitis viruses. Caused by hepatitis E virus . It transmitted through oral fecal route. It mainly found in the areas with  poor sanitation. Vaccination for hepatitis E is under processing and yet not available commercially.

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Among all the forms, Hepatitis C is very common. Hepatitis c is caused by hepatitis c virus (HCV) usually causes liver inflammation and transmitted through body fluids. Its incubation period is almost 45 days. Sometimes it remains asymptomatic and act as a silent killer. HCV has two phases of infection acute and chronic. Acute phase: In acute phase it shows symptoms earlier and last for almost 6 months. In this phase antiviral therapy is more effective and chances of recovery are higher. Chronic phase: In chronic phase it lasts for months to years. In this phase antiviral treatment is less effective so chances of recovery are low.

Prevalence of HCV:

Hepatitis C virus has been recognized as a major source of liver disease worldwide in 1989. According to recent estimation of WHO HCV is representing 2% that’s almost 123 million people. HCV is the leading cause of liver disease worldwide. It’s hard to estimate the actual number and prevalence of HCV because studies and designs for estimation are done in selected population e.g patients with liver cirrhosis as they don’t represent the whole community.

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Countries

Prevalence

USA

1.8%

Canada

0.8%

China

3.2%

Pakistan

2.4-6.5%

India

0.9%

 

Sign and symptoms: In acute condition Symptoms includes fatigues, episodic fever, abdominal pain with light stool color and loss of appetite, severe abdominal pain, gradual weight loss, eyes and skin color changes to yellow however in chronic phase hepatitis gradually develops. Severity of disease may lead to liver damage, liver cirrhosis and ultimately liver cancer. Jaundice, dark urine, joints pain, loss of appetite is the major symptoms of hepatitis C.

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Risk Factors

  • Unscreened blood transfusion
  • Sharing needles for drug injection
  • Sharing personal care items (blade, razors, nail clippers etc.)
  • Puncture with needle that’s contaminated with blood of infected person
  • Transmitted through infected mother to her baby
  • Medical equipment’s with poor hygiene practice
  • Have tattoo with unclean equipment’s
  • HIV coinfection
  • HBV coinfection
  • Direct contact with blood of infected person
  • Contaminated syringes and needles could be the major source of transmission
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Chronic liver disease and HCC

Preventive Measures

  • Don’t share personal care items (razors blade nail clippers etc.)
  • Always cover scratches and cuts with appropriate dressing
  • Take blood sample very carefully to avoid needle puncture
  • Hygienically dispose off items contaminated with blood stained
  • Avoid tattooing with unclean equipment
  • Avoid sharing needles for drug injection
Author : Tehzeeb Asghar

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