The CDC estimates that 60,000 people in Louisiana (1.3% of the population)
are infected with HCV. Of these people, 50,000 (85%) will go on to develop chronic hepatitis and 10,000 (17%) infected people
will progress to cirrhosis, which has a 25% fatality rate. Annually, 150 Louisiana residents are expected to die from HCV.
The highest rates for both males and females are seen in the thirty-five to forty-four year-old age group. In all age groups,
incidence is higher among males (71% of all cases) than females. Furthermore, the number of HCV hospitalizations increased
progressively from 3,350 in 1999 to almost 7,000 in 2008. The overall rate of HCV hospitalization was 100.4 per 100,000 population
for Whites and 146.8 per 100,000 for African Americans. The geographical distribution of HCV in Louisiana shows higher rates
in urban centers (greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Monroe).
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C Infection?
About 75% of people have no symptoms when they first acquire hepatitis C viral infection. The remaining 25% may complain
of fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches or fever. Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) is rare at this early stage
Over time, the liver in people with chronic infection may begin to experience the
effects of the persistent inflammation caused by the immune reaction to the virus. Blood tests may show elevated levels of
liver enzymes, a sign of liver damage, which is often the first suggestion that the infection may be present. Patients may
become easily fatigued or complain of nonspecific symptoms.
As cirrhosis develops, symptoms increase
and may include :
- loss of appetite,
- weight loss,
- breast enlargement in men,
- a rash on the
- difficulty with the clotting of blood, and
blood vessels on the skin.