There are three types of Hepatitis – A, B, and C. Currently, there are vaccines to prevent both A and B, but there is not an available vaccine for type C.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that can be categorized by either Acute or Chronic viral infections. The acute infection is an illness that normally occurs within 6 months of being exposed to the virus. For most people, the acute stage of the virus leads to the chronic illness; which can cause serious damage to the liver.
Although the results of Hepatitis C can be devastating, most people are unaware that they are Hep C positive. The Centers for Disease Control believe that most of the 3.2 million persons in the US that are infected with the Hepatitis C virus are unaware that they are carrying the disease. You are at risk for Hepatitis C if you:
- Are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood
- Have ever injected illicit drugs
- Are HIV positive
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987
- Received hemodialysis treatments over a long period of time
- Were born to an infected mother.
Acute outbreak symptoms include: flu-like symptoms at the time of infection. Chronic disease symptoms include: stomach pain, diarrhea, dark-colored urine, pale bowel movements, and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
If you believe that you are at risk for having Hepatitis C you should speak to your doctor and be tested. If you are infected, you should take steps to prevent spreading the disease to others and have your health monitored by your ADH physician.