There are six different types of Hepatitis, A, B, C, D, E and G. Hepatitis C is a viral, infectious disease that is carried by the blood. If Hepatitis C is not found early in a patient, which is difficult as nine out of ten sufferers dont show any symptoms, it can cause liver inflammation and, if not treated, overtime Hepatitis C can cause Cirrhosis and cancer of the liver.
How was Hepatitis C found?
Hepatitis C was initially found in the 1970s by Harvey Alter who worked at the National Institute of Health as a chief of infectious diseases. Initially studies were being carried out to demonstrate that Hepatitis A and B viruses were not the cause of post transfusion cases of Hepatitis.
Harvey Alters team discovered an unknown organism that was another type of Hepatitis through this study, which they named non-A, non B Hepatitis, otherwise referred to as NANBH.
Although this breakthrough discovery was found, it took another ten years before the virus was properly identified. It took another group led by Michael Houghton and Qui Lim Choo from the Chiron Corporation to identify the unknown organism known only as NANBH by using molecular cloning.
To confirm the identification of the organism the Chiron Corporation sent their data to Harvey Alter and his team. Harvey Alter verified the data as being the same organism they initially found, they checked this by cross-referencing the culture of non-A, non B Hepatitis. In 1989, a year after the new virus had been identified and given the title of Hepatitis C; two articles were published in the science journal.
Different stages of Hepatitis C
You may not know this but there are different stages of Hepatitis C that are called by many different names, each name refers to the length of time a patient has had Hepatitis and the severity of the infection.
Acute Hepatitis C is the name for the initial stages of infection; this is the first 6 months of infection. In this stage over three quarters of people infected do not realize they have contracted the virus, as they dont show any symptoms, those who do show symptoms are normally misdiagnosed with fatigue or another less harmful medical condition.
Chronic Hepatitis C
This is the name of a Hepatitis C infection that has been growing for longer than six months; again this stage of Hepatitis is normally discovered by accident because the symptoms are not always noticed.
Nearly all patients with Chronic Hepatitis C have some level of inflammation of the liver but the levels of scarring on the liver differ greatly. If a patient goes untreated with Hepatitis C they have a thirty percent chance of having cirrhosis within 30 years, with the remaining seventy percent of untreated patients gaining cirrhosis at some point in their life.
Watching your health
As you can see Hepatitis C is not an infection you would like to have, but should you be diagnosed with Hepatitis C there is a wealth of support available from medical experts.