Hepatitis C cluster at SGH: What you need to know

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SINGAPORE: The Singapore General Hospital on Tuesday (October 6th) said it is investigating a series of hepatitis C infections in renal neighborhood. In total, 22 patients who were hospitalized between April and June this year were infected and SGH said it is possible that hepatitis C could be a contributing factor in the deaths of four people in the group. A recent death is under review.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the disease, based on information that runs SGH SingHealth and World Health Organization.

1. What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can cause both acute and chronic infection and chronic hepatitis, ranging from mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong. The long-term effect of HCV infection is cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure or liver cancer, if the patient is left untreated for a long period of time, according to SingHealth. However, he adds that HCV is very rarely associated with life-threatening illness acutely.

Related: death of the woman who draws attention to medication hepatitis C costly

“Hepatitis C is a disease slowly progressive, “said Dr. Desmond Wai, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist consultant at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. “It takes about 20, 30 years to cause serious liver damage.

” Even in immunosuppressed people, such as recipients of organ transplants or people on dialysis, it takes about 10, 20 years for damage severe liver. The only exception is an organ transplant recipient by which they are in the suppression Immunal so your immune system is down and hepatitis C can progress very quickly. But it is a very rare syndrome. We call fibrosing cholestatic hepatitis c. I’ve seen it before, but they are very, very rare.

“In patients with fibrosing cholestatic hepatitis c, which can die within two to four weeks, but that is very, very rare.”

2. How is HCV transmitted?

HCV is not, unlike the severe acute respiratory (SARS) airborne. HCV is transmitted largely through blood and blood products. HCV infections could occur through the following means:

  • drug abuse intravenous
  • Receiving blood donations, blood and organs produce from a carrier of HCV
  • injury from accidental puncture in the field of health care
  • hemodialysis patients with renal failure
  • from mother infected with HCV child during birth
  • sex with a person infected with HCV
  • Other health care procedures involving invasive procedures, such as injections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Diseases.

While it is a blood-borne virus, Dr. Wai said people are not likely to hepatitis C through blood transmission, such as Singapore began screening donors blood for hepatitis C since 1995.

“Any donor blood to the blood bank to donate blood Singapore – are asked a whole list of questions,” he said. “They have planned out any risk factors for hepatitis B, C, HIV, etc.

” The blood would then test them for hepatitis C and is very, very accurate. Therefore the chances of contracting hepatitis C to someone from a blood transfusion in Singapore is almost zero, I would say. “

3. How the cluster of hepatitis C infection is detected?

In early June 2015, doctors in a renal ward at SGH observed a higher frequency of newly diagnosed hepatitis C in the room infections. there were seven cases within four weeks. This resulted in increased controls for HCV infection in patients in the room who had evidence of abnormal liver function.

4. What are patients affected?

the 22 infected patients remained in the room, recently renovated with 67 periods of stay between April and June, while the original renal room overlap, 64A room was being renovated. All patients had renal disease and most had a history of kidney failure in terminal phase and / or renal transplantation.

5. Who else is being projected?

SGH is proactively contact all patients who were admitted to the rooms 64A and 67 from January to June for screening. Equipment SGH health care such as doctors and nurses are being examined as well.

Patients who are unsure if they are affected can call 65 6321-3356, or leave a message via SMS to 8799 to 2736. 65 can also email [email protected] with your name and number of CI.

6. room is contaminated? Any plan to “clean” the room?

As the HCV infection is not like SARS, “clean” airborne installation is irrelevant, SingHealth said. However, SGH has taken steps to strengthen their infection control practices by conducting a new round of environmental cleanup.

7. How safe it is that HCV SGH not affect patients in other wards and their families?

HCV is transmitted primarily through blood, unlike SARS, which is transmitted through the air. In the absence of a venous access as through injections and unprotected open wounds, should be safe, especially for the patient’s family, said SingHealth.

For patients, strict sterile practices without needle exchange prevent the spread of HCV. “These rules are strictly observed,” SGH said. “However, we are reviewing all our processes and the application of more stringent measures.”

8. What are the symptoms for HCV?

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of people have no symptoms after being infected. However those who do show symptoms may show signs of fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, feces gray, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the part white of the eyes).

9. What is the incubation period of HCV infection?

In people who develop symptoms of hepatitis C, the average period of time of exposure to onset of symptoms is 2-24 weeks.

Some patients may be asymptomatic (ie, may not show signs of the disease) for years.

10. What is the treatment for HCV infection?

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but treatment is available to prevent the occurrence of complications such as cirrhosis. Complications such as cirrhosis usually take years to occur, if left untreated for a prolonged period.

Antiviral drugs can cure up to 90 percent of people infected with hepatitis C.

Treatment for HCV infection varies depending on the patient’s condition and clinical indication. Therefore, the cost of treatment is variable and ranges from about S $ 5,000 to S $ 90,000 of course, SingHealth said.

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