Post-Standard (Syracuse) (01.28.12) - Tuesday, January 31,
The Cortland County Health Department is receiving assistance
from state officials in an investigation of a recent hepatitis
C spike there.
Catherine Feuerherm, Cortland's public health director, said
the county has logged 30 hepatitis C cases in the past five
months. Neighboring counties like Onondaga and Tompkins are
not seeing similar increases, she said.
Those infected are mainly people under 35 who inject drugs -
primarily prescription pain pills that are crushed and then
boiled down. Many of those with the blood-borne virus reported
sharing needles, cotton, water, and other shooting
Investigators have found some of the infected individuals did
not believe they were at risk by sharing needles and other
injection equipment with only their partners or close friends,
not realizing these individuals might already have the virus.
People with chronic hepatitis C may not show symptoms for 20
years or more. People with acute hepatitis C show symptoms.
Six of the Cortland cases are acute.
The drugs being injected include Opana and Suboxone, which are
sold and shared, said Feuerherm. "[They have] been found to be
a quick way to make money. What we're seeing is an explosion
within the circle of use," she said, adding that the outbreak
is not happening among Cortland's college population.