State health officials said Wednesday the number of cases has topped 18,000. There were nearly 3,600 cases reported in 2003. That compares with 828 in 1997.
State epidemiologist Angela Russell says the increase is due to greater awareness of testing for hepatitis C and reporting requirements for the virus.
Hepatitis C infects more than three million Americans, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also says Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer and nationally causes 8,000 to 10,000 deaths each year.
How You Can Contract Hepatitis C
- Injecting street drugs, as the needles and/or other drug "works" used to prepare or inject the drug(s) may have had someone else's blood that contained HCV on them.
- Receiving blood, blood products, or solid organs from a donor whose blood contained HCV.
- Being on long-term kidney dialysis as you may have unknowingly shared supplies/equipment that had someone else's blood on them.
- Being a healthcare worker who had frequent contact with blood on the job, especially accidental needlesticks.
- Having a mother who had hepatitis C at the time she gave birth to you. During the birth her blood may have gotten into your body.
- Having sex with a person infected with HCV.
- Living with someone who was infected with HCV and shared items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have had his/her blood on them.
Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/c/faq.htm#1b (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).