Hepatitis C (HCV) was formerly called non-A, non-B hepatitis and is an RNA virus. It is not related to any virus that cause hepatitis.
Usual mode of transmission is through blood and blood products, including:
- IV drug users and renal dialysis patients
- Sexual intercourse
- Theoretically, through contaminated piercing and tattooing tools and ink
- Sharing a razor or nail-clipper with the patient that is infected.
- Incubation period varies from 1 week to several months.
- About 35,000 new cases of Hepatitis C are reported in the United States each year.
- HCV is the most common reason for liver transplantation.
- Approximately 50% of HCV develop to chronic liver disease and at least 20% progress to cirrhosis
- Similar to Hepatitis B, but usually less severe
- Symptoms usually occur 6-7 weeks after transfusion but may be attributed to another viral infection
- Elevated serum transferase levels – ALT, AST
- Hepatitis C antibody – may not be detected for 3 to 6 months after onset of HCV illness.
- Always screen blood and blood products for blood-borne diseases.
- Always practice safe sex.
- Never re-use needles for injections. Always open a new sterile syringe and discard properly after u se.
- Educate adolescents about the risk of piercing and tattooing in transmission of HCV.
- Combination therapy of interferon (Intron-A) and ribavirin (Rebetol) is effective for treating relapses.
- Alcohol and hepatotoxic drugs should be avoided.
- Close monitoring is imperative.
- Encourage verbalization of feelings of anxiety of family members as well as the patient when the disease is diagnosed.
- Always observe standard precautions in handling blood and body fluids.
- Always instruct patient and care givers to properly dispose used needles in a puncture resistant container.
- Emphasize proper nutrition, a high-calorie, low-fat diet is small frequent feedings should be given.
- Always monitor the vital signs as well as markers if the disease progresses.
- Hemolytic anemia from combination therapy.
Photo credits: www.nhl.gov