According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the deaths due to hepatitis C reached an astounding amount of 19,659. A number greater than all of the casualties originated from 60 other similar diseases, among which HIV is included.

The rise of the death quota from 2003 to 2014 was located at 78 percent, while most of the affected were between 55 and 64 years old. The findings come to light due to May being regarded as the hepatitis awareness month.

Hepatitis C infection can severely damage the liver, but new findings from Johns Hopkins revealed that it can also mean dangers for the heart as well. Credit: belmarrahealth

Top infectious killer

According to the director of the CDC division of Viral Hepatitis Dr. John W. Ward, most of the carriers were unaware of their condition as most of them had undergone blood transfusion and injection procedures back when medical technology was much less developed than it is today.

The study considered mortality data from 2003 up to 2013. The yearly death rate due to hep-C of 2003 stood at 11,051 while it increased to 19,368 in 2013, displaying an average rate of 865 additional deaths per year. The researchers also found out that only 19 percent of the deceased patients had hepatitis C listed on the death certificate, while 3 out of every 4 patients did show principles of liver disease at the time of death.

Ward stated that in the time of World War II, the virus that causes hepatitis C had not been discovered, so blood supply lines were not screened for possible infectious diseases. The most common method of hepatitis C transmission is through infected blood or needles, as there has also been a concerning trend of drug-users becoming infected by the disease.

The efforts against the disease

The treatment for hepatitis C consists in a daily pill for three months, although not everyone is able to afford the prescription medication.

Dr. Ward recommended that screenings for hepatitis C be implemented in standard tests such as the ones for high cholesterol and colon cancer; he also advised for people born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested for hep-C at least one time in their lives.

It is estimated that at least 3 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, and less than half are aware of their condition. The research team also noted that the discovered data “greatly underestimates the true hepatitis C mortality burden.”

The CDC is calling for an increased effort in finding the carriers of the disease as there has been a dramatic increase in hepatitis C infections due to drug-related transmission in the United States.

Source: CDC