What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by two distinct viruses.
How is the virus spread?
Like hepatitis B, hepatitis C is spread by exposure to blood from an infected person. For this reason, it is seen in people who have received a blood transfusion or who have shared needles during drug abuse.
Who gets hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C occurs most often in people who have received a blood transfusion or who have shared needles during drug abuse.
What are the symptoms?
Some people experience appetite loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, vague stomach pain and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may occur from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure but usually within two months.
How long is a person able to spread hepatitis C?
Some people carry the virus in their bloodstream and may remain contagious for years.
How is hepatitis C diagnosed?
Diagnosis depends on demonstration of antibody to the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) using a recently developed second-generation assay (EIA), which has been established as a screening test for blood donors.
What is the treatment for this illness?
There is no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once the symptoms appear. Generally, bed rest is all that is needed.
How can the spread of hepatitis C be prevented?
People who have had hepatitis C should remain aware that their blood and possibly other body fluids are potentially ineffective. Care should be taken to avoid blood exposure to others by sharing toothbrushes, razors, needles, etc. In addition, infected people must not donate blood and should inform their dental or medical care providers so that proper precautions can be followed.
This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.
For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention website.
To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.