Hepatitis C Alert From The Tennessee Department of Health

Hepatitis CThe Tennessee Department of Health is issuing a public health advisory urging residents to increase their awareness about Hepatitis C, a life-threatening disease spread by direct contact with blood from an infected person. The rate of acute Hepatitis C cases in Tennessee has more than tripled in the last seven years, and the steadily increasing number of cases may only represent “the tip of the iceberg” of the state’s Hepatitis-C epidemic, according to the TDH Commissioner. In addition to reported cases of acute Hepatitis C it is estimated that more than 100,000 Tennesseans may be living with chronic Hepatitis C and not know it.
Early symptoms of Hepatitis C infection can include fatigue, abdominal pain, itching and dark urine. Many people, however, are not aware they have the disease until the virus has already caused liver cancer or liver damage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all individuals born from 1945 to 1965 be tested, as well as individuals of any age who have any specific risk factors, including a history of injection drug use or unsanitary tattooing or piercing. If chronic Hepatitis C infection is present, a doctor can recommend treatment options. The sooner an infection is identified and treatment started, the better a person’s chances are for recovery.
TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually.