Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop cosmetics chain, died this week at the age of 64 after suffering a major brain haemorrhage.
According to reports, she collapsed after complaining of a sudden headache.
She had apparently also recently told how she had contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion during the birth of one of her daughters in 1971, although she was only officially diagnosed with the virus in 1994.
What is Hepatitis C and how does one get it? What are the effects? Health24 investigated.
What is Hepatitis C?
- Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus.
- It is spread by close contact with an infected person, which allows exchange of minute quantities of blood through tiny grazes or cuts.
- It can be spread by means of sex, rough play amongst children, sharing toothbrushes or razors or direct contact with e.g. a bleeding wound, or a transfusion of infected blood.
Often people with the virus have no symptoms when they get infected. But in those who do develop symptoms, the hepatitis viruses tend to be slow in making themselves felt and hepatitis C can take about two months, on average, to show up.
Sometimes the person may not even be aware that they have ever had hepatitis or even that they have become chronically infected, but may discover the infection by means of a blood test.
Symptoms include decreased appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, itching, and flu-like symptoms, muscle and joint pain, low-grade fevers, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, depression, headaches and mood swings.
The most frequent complication of Hepatitis C is that the virus persists in the liver; this is known as "chronic hepatitis".
With Hepatitis C, the risk of chronic hepatitis is about 80%.
Most people who become chronically infected with Hepatitis C have no or few symptoms. They are sometimes referred to as hepatitis carriers and can transmit their infection to other individuals in close contact with them.
Some people who become chronically infected with it will have "chronic active hepatitis", which means that the inflammation is more marked and will cause symptoms of ongoing hepatitis, and will ultimately result in significant liver damage.
Chronic hepatitis C can be complicated by kidney damage.
Early or recent hepatitis C infections may not be detected very easily and the usual test only becomes positive when antibodies are produced by the immune system several weeks or months into the illness.
Therefore a specialised Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for the hepatitis C virus may be required in some cases.
Hepatitis C can take months to clear from the blood, although a person will probably be well enough to return to their normal activities before they become non-infectious.
Sources: www.sapa.co.za and www.health24.com
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