Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a serious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus is spread by exposure to HCV infected blood or body fluid. In the United States, the most common methods of transmission include: injection drug use, needlestick injuries in healthcare settings, birth to an HCV-infected mother, and through donated blood, blood products, or organs (though this is much rarer after blood screening became available in 1992). Less common means of transmission are high risk sexual activity or sharing of personal items contaminated with blood with an HCV-infected person and invasive healthcare procedures (such as injections). Body piercing and tatooing are other potential sources of transmission if contaminated equipment or supplies are used. HCV can take 14 to 180 days (2 weeks to 6 months) to show symptoms in someone who is infected.

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ALL cases of hepatitis C and hepatitis C positive lab results are to be reported to the state health department within ONE WEEK of diagnosis.

Hepatits C virus under microscope. It can take between 14 to 180 days after exposure to develop symptoms, though some never display symptoms. The infected can spread HCV from two weeks after exposure and can remain infectious for an indefinite period of time.

Jaundice, or yellowing of skin and/or eyes, is a key sign of liver damage, like that caused by Hepatitis C. Other symptoms include: Nausea, vomitting, right upper quadrant pain, dark urine, clay colored stool, anorexia, malaise, headache, joint pain, and fever.

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, however, there are treatments. Because of its severe symptoms and potential to become a chronic and even fatal infection, if you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis C you should get tested.