What is hepatitis C infection:
It is the type of hepatitis caused by hepatitis-C virus. It is one of the common causes of chronic hepatitis. It takes long time to produce its full blown effect i.e. liver cirrhosis & its complications.
Incidence of Hepatitis C in Bangladesh.
About 1%-3% of population of Bangladesh have Hepatitis-C infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis-C:
In most of the patients there may be no symptoms, The following symptoms may be either individual or in combination
@ Fatigue, loss of appetite, feeling sick & weight loss, flue like fever, chills, headache.
@ Mild pain in the liver area.
@ Jaundice, ascites, bleeding, loss of consciousness in advanced stage.
How hepatitis C spreads.
@ Contact with blood and other body fluids— most common causes are.
@ Transfusion of blood & blood products.
@ Contact of infected blood with cut surface or open wound.
@ Surgeons specially dental surgeons, nurse, dialysis unit workers.
@ Parenteral drug abusers
@ About 50%-80% of present and past drug abusers & those shared needle..
@ Tattoo, acupuncture, ear, nose & body pricking
@ Use of unsterile infected needles & sharp materials for pricking purposes.
@ Social contact.
@ By sharing scissors, towels and shaving with common razor in the hair cutting saloon.
@ Transmission through sex.
@ Sexual transmission through unprotected sex is less but it occasionally occur.
@ Breast feeding & saliva
@ It is less but possible if there is crack nipple.
@ Mother to baby transmission
@ The risk of transmitting the baby from mother is about 6%, which may occur within the womb, during delivery or after birth.
How to prevent it:
It should be kept in mind that there is no vaccine currently available against hepatitis-C virus. So awareness & personal protection is the only way to avoid this disease.
Some advise :
@ Strict screening of blood and blood products for Hepatitis-C before any transfusion.
@ Use of own toothbrush, razor, scissors & other personal items.
@ Practicing of safer sex.(Barrier method)
@ HCV positive should never donate blood and register as organ donor.
@ Ensuring the use of sterile needles, syringe for various purposes.
@ Extreme precautions by medical,surgical dental & nursing staff against needle stick injury or blood spillage.
Treatment : Consult liver specialist (hepatologist) for evaluation and treatment. Hepatitis C infection may remain silent without any symptom for long time(many years). Treatment is costly and may take long period.
Remember: Regular assessment is needed to detect whether liver damage is progressing and to plan the appropriate treatment in due time.