Hepatitis C cases Increase Across Wisconsin

There are six counties in northern and central Wisconsin that are investigating why the number of Hepatitis C cases in the population under 30 has significantly increased in the last few years. Currently, the CDC is collaborating with health officials from Wood, Lincoln, Oneida, Portage, Langlade and Marathon counties to try to identify the issue. Reports from 2004 to 2008 indicate that the six-county region had an average of 12.2 cases per year. However, in 2009 and 2010 this same region averaged 27 cases per year (a 120% increase!) Hepatitis C is a viral disease the causes to inflammation of the liver. Symptoms can vary considerably and tend to be insignificant for those recently infected with the virus. Some people get jaundice, upper right abdominal pain, swelling, dark urine, fatigue, fever or itching. There are many ways to contract Hepatitis C including sexual contact with someone who is already infected, using contaminated needles, and receiving a tattoo from contaminated needles and receiving blood or organs from someone who is infected. Unlike other strains of Hepatitis like A and B, there is no vaccine to protect people from being infected with Hepatitis C and its effects can be serious and even fatal. The reason some health officials believe that the cases in this northern region of Wisconsin are increasing is that more and more people are using injection drugs. The public health departments are trying to increase awareness and encouraging people to protect themselves and seek medical attention if they believe they have been infected.

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