Better Infection Control Programs Needed to Help Combat Hepatitis C in Egypt
EGYPT: 5 million infected with Hepatitis C
The annual infection rate is more than 70,000 new cases, of which at least 35,000 would have chronic hepatitis C," said Dr Manal el-Sayed, Professor of Paediatrics at Cairo's Ain Shams University and member of the National Hepatitis Committee which is currently formulating an action plan to fight the disease.
Hepatitis C is a lethal virus which can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer. Egypt has one of the highest prevalence rates of the virus in the world, say specialists. An estimated 10-15 percent of the population, some 8-10 million people, are carrying hepatitis C antibodies, meaning that they either have or at one time had the virus. Five million of those are actively infected, according to government figures.
No vaccine is available for HCV although it can be treated with a combination of drugs if detected early enough.
Egypt's very high prevalence of HCV is largely the legacy of government campaigns prior to 1980 to treat rural populations for schistosomiasis (or bilharzia), a water-borne disease which at one time was endemic in Egypt. The treatment campaigns, which involved repeated injections, did not follow rigorous hygiene standards, and as such spread blood-borne HCV throughout the population.
As it may take up to 30 years for a patient to display symptoms of HCV or for the disease to become active, the full extent of the problem has only recently become known.
Those at risk of new HCV infections in Egypt are not just those in medical contact with existing patients, however. The children and relatives of individuals affected during the schistosomiasis campaign are also a high-risk group, as widespread behavioural practices - such as the re-use of syringes, sharing of toothbrushes and even circumcision - all increase the risk of contracting blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
Friday, February 09, 2007
2 people that I met when I was in Egypt in 2005 died almost 4 months ago, both from liver problems. Maybe this has something to do with their problems: