Hepatitis C

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:

  1. IV drug users and renal dialysis patients
  2. Sexual intercourse
  3. Theoretically, through contaminated piercing and tattooing tools and ink
  4. 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

Clinical Manifestations:

  1. Similar to Hepatitis B, but usually less severe
  2. Symptoms usually occur 6-7 weeks after transfusion but may be attributed to another viral infection

Diagnostic Evaluation:

  1. Elevated serum transferase levels – ALT, AST
  2. Hepatitis C antibody – may not be detected for 3 to 6 months after onset of HCV illness.

Prevention:

  1. Always screen blood and blood products for blood-borne diseases.
  2. Always practice safe sex.
  3. Never re-use needles for injections. Always open a new sterile syringe and discard properly after u se.
  4. Educate adolescents about the risk of piercing and tattooing in transmission of HCV.

Medical Management:

  1. Combination therapy of interferon (Intron-A) and ribavirin (Rebetol) is effective for treating relapses.
  2. Alcohol and hepatotoxic drugs should be avoided.
  3. Close monitoring is imperative.

Nursing Management:

  1. Encourage verbalization of feelings of anxiety of family members as well as the patient when the disease is diagnosed.
  2. Always observe standard precautions in handling blood and body fluids.
  3. Always instruct patient and care givers to properly dispose used needles in a puncture resistant container.
  4. Emphasize proper nutrition, a high-calorie, low-fat diet is small frequent feedings should be given.
  5. Always monitor the vital signs as well as markers if the disease progresses.

Complication:

  • Hemolytic anemia from combination therapy.

Photo credits: www.nhl.gov

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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