Journal-Standard (Freeport, Ill.) (10.22.03) - Wednesday,
Illinois' Stephenson County Health Department is watching
hepatitis C rates after noting a rise in cases in 2002.
A county health department annual report showed 17 hepatitis C
cases in 2002, a 40 percent increase over the 12 cases
reported in 2001. But the Illinois Department of Public Health
reported 22 cases of hepatitis C in Stephenson County for
2002. County Health Administrator Jeff Todd said the
discrepancy reflects the inclusion of later test results and
that the IPDH figure is probably accurate, which means an 80
percent increase in the number of hepatitis C cases.
The case count represents disease carriers - individuals who
are infected but not symptomatic. From April 2001 - when the
federal government made hepatitis C a reportable disease - to
the present, the state reported 818 infected persons.
Pam Kirkpatrick, communicable disease coordinator for the
Health Department, said doctors are doing a better job of
screening for hepatitis C and advising patients about risk
factors, including having received a blood transfusion or
solid organ transplant before July 1992, having received
clotting factors made before 1987, and having ever been on
long-term kidney dialysis. CDC estimates that injection drug
use accounts for 60 percent of all new cases of the ailment,
although body piercing or tattooing with unsterilized needles,
sharing personal care items, sharing drug paraphernalia and
sexual activity resulting in blood-to-blood contact can also
lead to infection. Antiviral therapy is effective about half
Former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson has hepatitis C.
According to news reports today, she told US magazine in an
upcoming issue, "I think I've got a good 10 years left in me,
which is sad, too. Maybe 15, if I'm lucky." Anderson, who was
diagnosed with the disease in 2001, is currently using
homeopathic treatments, according to reports.
Todd said there are currently about 2 million to 4 million
undiagnosed cases of hepatitis C nationwide.