Viral Hepatitis C, 2004
In 2004, 23 cases of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection were reported. Sixteen (70%) of these case-patients had clinical symptoms, and seven (30%) were asymptomatic seroconversions. Fourteen (61%) case-patients resided in Greater Minnesota. The median age was 24 years (range, 14 to 53 years). Twelve (52%) case-patients were female. Fourteen (61%) were white; six (26%) were American Indian; two (9%) were black, and one (4%) was of unknown race. Incidence rates were higher among American Indians (10.9 per 100,000 population) and blacks (1.2 per 100,000 population) than among whites (0.3 per 100,000 population).
Among the 23 case-patients, 17 (74%) reported using needles to inject drugs. Five (22%) case-patients had sexual contact with a known anti-HCV-positive partner within 6 months prior to onset of symptoms; two (9%) had a recent tattoo and one (4%) had recent surgery. (A case-patient may have >1 risk factor.)
MDH received more than 3,200 reports of newly identified anti-HCV-positive persons in 2004, the vast majority of whom are chronically infected. Because most cases are asymptomatic, medical providers are encouraged to consider each patient’s risk for HCV infection to determine the need for testing. Patients for whom testing is indicated include: persons with past or present injecting drug use; recipients of transfusions or organ transplants before July 1992; recipients of clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987; persons on chronic hemodialysis; persons with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels; healthcare, emergency medical, and public safety workers after needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures to HCV-positive blood; and children born to HCV-positive women. Infants born to HCV-infected mothers should be tested at 12 to 18 months of age, as earlier testing tends to reflect maternal antibody status. Persons who test positive for HCV should be screened for susceptibility to hepatitis A and B virus infections and immunized appropriately.
Note: For up to date information on hepatitis C virus see Hepatitis C
Go to full issue: DCN, July/August 2005: Volume 33, Number 4