Hepatitis 3Wednesday, May 25, 2011
More than four million Americans are infected with the Hepatitis C virus, making this the most common blood-borne infection in the country. Dr. Edward Hill concludes his reports on hepatitis in todays 60 Second Housecall.
Hepatitis C infection is caused by blood-to-blood transmission such as intravenous drug addicts sharing needles or by blood transfusion with infected blood. The virus also can be spread by sexual contact, but the risk is low.
Hepatitis C can eventually lead to severe, permanent liver damage and cirrhosis and may be complicated by liver cancer. Because the initial symptoms are mild, Hepatitis C often goes unnoticed until years later when liver damage is discovered. Most people are not aware they have the disease until the liver starts to fail.
More than 70 percent of infected people will develop liver disease and an estimated 8,000 die every year.
In the past, it was possible to spread Hepatitis C through blood transfusions or organ transplants. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs have been screened for Hepatitis C.
Acute Hepatitis C may not be treated initially because symptoms are usually mild or absent, and Hepatitis C is often not diagnosed. Antiviral treatment can be used in some patients to rid the body of Hepatitis C infection.
For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.