Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a viral cause of hepatitis - a liver disease. This single-stranded, flavivirus-like RNA agent causes the vast majority of posttransfusion and sporadic non-A non-B hepatitis.

Most cases of hepatitis C are subclinical, even in the acute stage. The infection has a much higher rate of chronicity (about 75%) than hepatitis B. Thus, hepatitis C is often uncovered by the serendipitous detection of anti-HCV in apparently healthy persons.

Because infectivity is via blood, risk factors include IV drug use, transfusions and needlesticks. Prevention, therefore, is mostly associated with avoiding these risk factors and practicing universal precautions.

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