Single stranded RNA "Flaviviridae" family virus, with six genotypes. The rapid drift of the make-up of envelope proteins make it difficult to develop a vaccine.
Spread via contaminated blood products and sharps, HCV only infects humans and chimpanzees.
Most are asymptomatic. 10% have mild flu-like symptoms with some jaundice. It often isn't until much later down the line, when chronic liver disease is present, or abnormal transaminase values detected, that a diagnosis is made.
- Cryoglobulinaemia- proteins precipitate from blood at temperatures below 37° (cryo) causing red skin patches. They will dissolve if blood is heated.
HCV RNA or Anti-HCV in serum, but usually a diagnosis of exclusion, after Hep. A, B and drug causes.
Pegylated-Interferon plus Ribavirin, soon after infection to prevent chronic Hep. C. If chronic, other drugs include Telaprevir and Boceprevir.
About 90% of asymptomatic patients develop chronic liver disease, but those who develop symptoms seem to be "fighting" the disease, and ~50% will develop chronic disease. Other important sequelae include Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular carcinoma.