CDC: Hepatitis C cases reach 15-year high

There are a couple of reasons why Hepatitis C infections have reached a 15-year high, according to the CDC.

Reports of new Hepatitis C infections have hit a 15-year high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are a couple reasons why: the increase in IV drug users and reported cases in baby boomers who are just now getting tested.  

With nearly 3.5 million Americans infected with Hepatitis C, local health departments are taking action.

You may see billboards with information, or health department vans wrapped with information about this virus.  They are hoping people who are at risk will see it and get the simple blood test.

Amy Hopkins with the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County said many have to be tested otherwise they won’t know if they have it.

"Most of the time the symptoms are very vague and often times there are no symptoms at all,” Hopkins said. “So, folks may have been exposed, they may have the virus and they're just not aware."

That's because you may not feel sick, but the virus could still be doing damage that can be fatal.

Garik Nicholson is the Epidemiology Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County.

"Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and also it can lead to liver failure and possibly {a} liver transplant,” Nicholson said. “So if left untreated, it can do extensive damage to the liver."

There is treatment. New medicines in the form of a pill can cure hepatitis C in two or three months.

Who needs to be tested:

*Current or former IV drug users 

*Any who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant from a donor before July 1992

*You should also get tested if you were born between 1945 and 1965. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a one-time screening for all baby boomers.

*If you have questions about testing contact your doctor or local health department.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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