In a recent report, the CDC warns that hepatitis C infection rates have more than tripled in four Appalachian states. Federal health officials disclosed that the main cause behind the outbreak are injectable drugs.
According to the report, which was first made public last month, the most affected age group were people in their teens and twenties living in the countryside in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
During their research, CDC researchers sifted through behavioral and demographic data available from 2006 to 2012.
Scientists were shocked to learn that during those six years the hepatitis C cases jumped by 364 percent. About 1,380 new cases were recorded in the four Appalachian states in less than six years, researchers report. About 44.8 percent were teens and young adults under 30.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also disclosed that in 73 percent of the new cases injection drug use was listed as the main “risk factor.”
According to the report, the four states’ hike in hepatitis C virus infections was unprecedented. The increase was also linked to a jump in cases of young people admitted to rehab facilitates for opioid addiction treatment.
Additionally, the new findings are consistent with a national problem related to heroin use. Federal data shows that first-time heroin use jumped from 90,000 cases to 156,000 between 2006 and 2012.
The good news is that HIV infection rates among drug addicts remain at low levels in the four Appalachian states.
But CDC researchers are concerned that that may be only temporary since alarming Hepatitis C infections signal an oncoming HIV outbreak as well.
Hepatitis C currently affects about 3.2 million people in the U.S. alone, being the most wide spread blood-borne disease in the country. Its most common symptoms are fatigue, yellow eyes and skin, dark-colored urine, nausea, loss of appetite, and rarely stomach pain.
On the other hand symptoms are very elusive and patients either mistake them for the signs of another condition or fail to detect them as symptoms of any disease. That’s the reason why, hepatitis C virus has a lot of time to damage the liver and many patient learn about the diagnosis when it is too late.
Usually, the disease is spread through blood or body fluids. People usually catch it by engaging into unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needless or having an injection with a used needle. Infected mothers can also pass on the disease to their newborns while giving birth. Hepatitis C infection is not transmitted through food or by shaking hands or other casual contact.
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