Sunday, December 1, 2013

Park County, Wyoming, USA sees a surge in hepatitis C cases

Health officials are investigating an increase in reported cases of the liver disease hepatitis C among young people in Park County, Wyoming, USA with evidence suggesting needle sharing among intravenous drug users might be to blame.

The probe came after 56 new reports of hepatitis C infections were logged in the county in 2012 — a figure that exceeds the state average and is about double the number of the year before.

The spike in the disease, which is transmitted by blood, involved people from 20 to 34.

It's possible some of the new reports involved people who have moved into Park County for substance-abuse treatment, but officials say they don't know how much that has contributed. The county's rate has been rising since 2008.

The Department of Health and Public Health spearheaded a campaign in May to raise awareness of the problem. It hung posters around the county warning people that if they're injecting drugs, they may be at risk for communicable diseases and hepatitis.

In the initial stages, infected people are unlikely to display symptoms. But once the infection progresses over several years, a person may have elevated liver enzymes and feel joint pain, fatigue and chronic abdominal pain. Liver damage or cancer can result from the disease.


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