WHAT IS IT?
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness but for 70%–85% of people who become infected with Hepatitis C, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death. The majority of infected persons might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Approximately 70%–80% 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:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal Pain
- Dark Urine
- Joint Pain
- Clay-Colored Bowel
If symptoms occur, the average time is 6–7 weeks after exposure, but this can range from 2 weeks to 6 months.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Currently there is no vaccination for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is spread via contact with an infected person’s blood. Methods to prevent Hepatitis C infection are:
- Practicing safe sex using protection
- Avoid sharing needles or syringes
- Avoid sharing personal items like razors and toothbrushes.
- Do not get tattoos or piercings at unlicensed facilities
- Wearing gloves and using a bleach solution to clean any blood spills
- CDC recommends that HCV-positive mothers with nipples and/or surrounding areola that are cracked and bleeding, should stop nursing temporarily until they are fully healed.
It is possible to cure a person of Hepatitis C with current treatments. A complete list of approved treatments can be found at the Food and Drug Administration website. A person who has been infected with Hepatitis C can seek further treatment with a gastroenterologist, hepatologist, or other specialists who can create a treatment plan specific to a person’s genotype of Hepatitis C.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page.
For more information about travel health vaccines, visit our Travel Clinic page.