INTRODUCTION TO HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV)
⇒ HCV was identified during the research for ‘non-A non-B’ viruses by experimental infection in the chimpanzees.
⇒ HCV is the most common cause of post-transfusion hepatitis in the developed countries.
⇒ Infection due to Hepatitis C virus is seen only in humans.
MORPHOLOGY OF HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV)
⇒ HCV belongs to Hepacivirus genus of Flaviviridae
⇒ Size – 50-60 nm in diameter
⇒ HCV is a Spherical & Enveloped Virus, carrying Glycoprotein spikes.
⇒ Genetic material – Linear ssRNA
TRANSMISSION ROUTE OF HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV)
⇒ Parenteral route – by contaminated syringes & needles, transfusion of blood & blood products.
⇒ Sexual transmission is uncommon, vertical transmission from mother to fetus may take place.
CLINICAL FEATURES OF TYPE C HEPATITIS
⇒ Incubation period – 15 – 160 days with a mean of 50 days.
⇒ Acute illness is usually mild, jaundice is less common.
⇒ Chronic illness by HCV is clinically most important as it is common & causes cirrhosis and Hepatocellular carcinoma.
LABORATORY DIAGNOSIS OF HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV)
⇒ Detection of HCV antibodies by ELISA.
⇒ Confirmation of the positive results obtained by ELISA is done by using recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA).
⇒ Viral genome detection by PCR & by Immunofluorescence Assay.
⇒ Culture techniques have not been established for HCV.
PROPHYLAXIS OF HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV) INFECTION
⇒ Screening of blood or blood products.
⇒ Avoid the use of unsterile needles, syringes & other materials.
⇒ No specific active or passive immunizing agents are available.
TREATMENT OF TYPE C HEPATITIS
⇒ Treatment with interferon alpha, either alone or in combination with other drugs like Ribavirin is found to be useful.