Hepatitis C comes across as a rather mysterious blood-borne type of hepatitis, which can remain quietly in the body for years on end without producing apparent symptoms, this form of the hepatitis was identified in 1988 by researchers, and it was called the non-A and non-B type hepatitis.
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The majority of patients remain unaware of being infected until the virus starts to attack the liver causing serious complications. Most treatments will not induce any significant changes in the condition of the patients, and many people don't know where or even how they contracted the virus - this is even after diagnosis has confirmed the presence of the condition. While both related conditions of hepatitis A and B can be prevented through vaccination, this disease is considered much more dangerous and vaccination may not help.
Sickness does not necessarily follow for everyone affected by the hepatitis C virus. But it is estimated that at least a third of those suffering from chronic hepatitis C will eventually develop either cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer in due course. Furthermore approximately more than half of all infected patients will become carriers, in addition to this, 20 percent of these carriers themselves will develop cirrhosis of the liver - this is a very serious disorder of the liver tissues.
Hepatitis C is believed to be the most common form of viral hepatitis in the United States and as many as 4 million Americans which is about 1 in every 60 people may be affected - the actual numbers of patients remains unknown.
Some recent trends have been worrying, in that the actual number of newly diagnosed patients is rising - these are patients who may have been infected a long time ago. These results are especially seen among baby boomers who were IV-drug abusers at some time in their past. In addition, 30 percent of the HCV-infected population consists of intravenous drug users. According to experts the lethal virus ultimately almost always ends up affecting such intravenous drug users.
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Treatments that utilize human blood during the process such as IV-drug use, blood transfusion procedures, and techniques like kidney dialysis are the main ways in which hepatitis C is transmitted. In fact this mode of transfusion is the major source for all post-transfusion hepatitis C infections. In comparison, his risk of infection from sexual transmission is minimal at most.
The risk of spreading hepatitis C by casual contact, while eating tainted food, or from coughing or sneezing appears to be minimal and there is no evidence where the virus has been transmitted in this way. An infected mother may pass the disease on to her new born baby in some rare cases. Infected individuals remain contagious for years on end as the virus remains in their bloodstream all the time to emerge suddenly.
The virus that causes yellow fever is related to the hepatitis C virus.
Illness such as symptomatic loss of appetite, severe physical fatigue, nausea and vomiting, along with stomach pain, and jaundice within two weeks to six months from date of exposure will affect approximately 25 percent of all patients. Symptoms typically begin to manifest themselves within two months from time of infection. Chronic liver disease is also likely to affect another fifty percent of these patients at some time as the infection progresses.
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The hepatitis virus D-or the HDV infects about 15 million people around the world, though it is not common in the United States. The frequency of infection from the HDV is correlated to infection from the hepatitis B virus, as the presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is necessary to produce infection and other symptoms in the patient.
The relationship between these two viruses is clearly seen in some parts of southern Italy, in some regions of the Russian republic, and in some parts of Romania, where more than 20 percent of HBV carriers, who display no symptoms along with more than 60 percent of chronic liver disease patients because of HBV also show infection from the hepatitis D virus. Thus these viruses occur together and symptoms may be related.
The use of contaminated needles is the major way in which the hepatitis D virus is spread around and this form of transmission occurs largely among the IV-drug abusers and to people who have exposure to blood products. Transmission through direct blood contact is much more important than sexual transmission as far as the hepatitis D virus is concerned and the sexual mode of transmission is less efficient than it is for the transmission of the hepatitis B virus.
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Even so many demographic groups of individuals such as the non-IV-drug-using male homosexuals, the majority of female prostitutes, and all institutionalized mentally retarded people remain at high risk for developing hepatitis D and the subsequent symptoms.
The actual transmission of the hepatitis D virus from an infected mother to unborn child yet to be documented in the United States - though this possibility is known to occur in other countries around the world, especially the developing countries.
The hepatitis D virus cannot be structurally distinguished from the other types or forms of the hepatitis virus. The presence of the hepatitis D virus has to be investigated by the development of a new episode of acute hepatitis in patients already known to have chronic hepatitis B infection-in other words, the presence of one virus and its symptoms should be a good clue to the presence of the other virus.
The antibodies for HDV may be detected in patients who have acute hepatitis B infections. Diagnosis of the presence of the virus is conducted by detecting the HDV antigen in biopsies of the liver tissues or from the presence of other antibodies in the blood of patients.
In addition, the hepatitis D virus can be prevented by the vaccine for the hepatitis B virus. That is a hepatitis B infection of the body is required for an infection of hepatitis D to take place.
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This form of the hepatitis virus occurs primarily in underdeveloped countries around the world, it is structurally very hard to distinguish from the hepatitis A virus symptomatically or otherwise. Contaminated drinking water is the major cause of transmission of this virus. And the hepatitis E spreads both in epidemic and sporadic outbreaks where safe drinking water is not easily available. This is considered major water borne condition and epidemic outbreaks have occurred in Asia, North Africa, and East Africa in recent years.
The demographic group that the disease is most likely to afflict is young to middle-aged adults around the ages of 15 and 40. In addition, very high fatalities have been reported among affected pregnant women as a demographic group, these individuals are the susceptible to the more severe manifestation of the disease. Recording extremely high rates of serious symptoms and death from the condition.
This form of the condition is more commonly referred as the enterically transmitted non-A and non-B hepatitis, alternately it has also been called the fecal-oral non-A and non-B form of hepatitis or sometimes the A-like and non-A or non-B form of viral hepatitis. There are a lot of chances for mistaking it for hepatitis C, which has also been called the parentally transmitted non-A and non-B or the B-like or non-A non-B form of hepatitis.
The fecal-oral route is the normal mode of transmission of the hepatitis E virus. It is also highly water borne and easily passes to people who drink contaminated water. The other major way in which the virus is transmitted includes the person-to-person route. This form of the virus can also be potentially transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food especially in under developed countries.
The typical symptoms include the appearance of malaise, a condition similar psychologically to anorexia, persistent abdominal pain, and sudden fever which suddenly arise in the affected individual two to nine weeks after initial infection. The manifestations and symptoms of the condition are not very serious and they slowly disappear within two weeks from initial time of infection.
Lethality is not very high, and among all patients who have this form of the condition, less than one percent of non-pregnant patients will move on to developing fatal fulminant hepatitis. The story is different for pregnant women, where the fatality rate can rise to as much as 20 percent of all patients.
The best and most effective preventive measures are proper sanitation of living space and an upkeep of personal hygiene at all times. No conventional vaccine exist for this condition at the present time, also unclear is whether the incidence of hepatitis E infection can confer lifelong immunity to the person who has been infected for the first time.
This form of the hepatitis virus has been identified in France, where it was found occurring in a few cases of hepatitis. French researchers have succeeded in passing on the infection to primates during animal experimentation. Very little is known about this form of the virus and its epidemiology. It requires further scientific investigations.