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Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?
What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
How is hepatitis C spread?
If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis C, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for hepatitis C? How serious is the disease?
How is hepatitis C diagnosed? 
Who should get tested for hepatitis C?
How many cases of hepatitis C have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on hepatitis C?

What is hepatitis C?
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, which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Hepatitis C can be either acute or chronic.

What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
Approximately 70–80 percent of people with acute hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. Some people, however, can have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including

How is hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.  
People can become infected with the hepatitis C virus during such activities as

Less commonly, a person can also get hepatitis C virus infection through

If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis C, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
Many people infected with the hepatitis C virus do not develop symptoms. But, if symptoms occur, the average time is six to seven weeks after exposure.

Even if a person with hepatitis C has no symptoms, he or she can still spread the virus to others. Many people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus do not know they are infected because they do not look or feel sick.

What treatments are available for hepatitis C? How serious is the disease?
There is no medication available to treat acute hepatitis C infection. Doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition and fluids.
Chronic hepatitis C is curable with treatment in about 80 percent of patients. But treatment is difficult and expensive (about $80,000 per year for medications alone). But, if left untreated, the virus can cause liver cancer, permanent liver scarring (called cirrhosis) and require a liver transplant
Approximately 15,000 people die every year from hepatitis C related liver disease.

How is hepatitis C diagnosed?  
The only way to know if you are infected with hepatitis C, are recovering, or are a chronic carrier is by having a blood test. Your doctor may be able to test for hepatitis C. Testing is also available by appointment at the Health Department's county health centers
 
Who should get tested for hepatitis C?
Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis C if any of the following are true:

How many cases of hepatitis C have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Cases of hepatitis C continue to rise in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties. In 2015, a total of 1,132 people were diagnosed with either acute or non-acute hepatitis C, according to preliminary case reports. This is an increase of 27 percent from 2014, when a total of 891 cases were reported. In 2014, Northern Kentucky had one of the highest rates of acute hepatitis C infection in the country, with a case rate of 10.9 per 100,000 population, compared to 2.68 per 100,000 in Kentucky and 0.55 per 100,000 nationwide (state and national rates for 2015 are not yet available). 

Where can I get more information on hepatitis C?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or, for more information, please call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Kentucky Department for Public Health