Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has contracted the potentially fatal liver disease Hepatitis C by sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband Tommy Lee.
Anderson, who has a tattoo of barbed wire around her left arm, is reported to have undergone treatment for the disease at the University of California, Los Angles Medical Centre.
Anderson's husband apparently did not disclose that he had the disease during their marriage.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, spread by very close contact with an infected person, which allows exchange of minute quantities of blood through tiny exchange of minute quantities of blood through tiny grazes or cuts.
This sort of spread can occur through:
- Rough play amongst children
- Sharing toothbrushes or razors
- Direct contact with e.g. a bleeding wound.
- From an infected mother to her baby
- Tattooing or tribal scarification with unsterile implements
- Between intravenous drug abusers who share needles and syringes
- Between patients and staff in hospital settings
- Potentially by blood transfusion. Since all blood donations are screened for Hepatitis B and C prior to use, the risk of acquiring viral hepatitis from a blood transfusion is low - in the region of 1 in 10 000 or less.
Many people have no symptoms when they get infected with hepatitis C. After a person has become infected, hepatitis C will take about two months to cause symptoms.
The early symptoms are:
- Loss of interest in food, especially fatty food
- Distaste for cigarettes (if you are a smoker)
- Feeling unwell
- Muscle aches
A small number of people who contract hepatitis may have early severe liver damage at the outset of the illness. Much of the liver can be destroyed, and the person goes into liver failure.
For more information on hepatitis and how it is treated, click here.