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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

Genome: RNA Virus, Positive ssRNA Virus Structure: Enveloped Virus
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HBV) is a hepatitis virus which typically results in chronic infection of the liver. A variety of serological markers are often used to determine if patients have been recently infected or are chronic carriers.
  • Parenteral Transmission: Vast majority of infections
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease: Small minority of infections
  • Mother-to-Child Transmission: Occurs in a small minority of infected mothers
  • Acute Infection
    • Incubation Period: Following initial infection there is an asymptomatic period when all serologies may be negative for anywhere between 2-12 weeks.
    • Acute Disease:
    • Acute Disease is characterized by signs and symptoms of acute viral hepatitis and HCV RNA can be detected in the plasma. An immune response to HCV is indicated by development of Anti-HCV IgM which is switched after a few weeks to IgG; however, these antibodies are not the source of immunity and are only correlated with onset of the immune response.
  • Chronic Infection
    • Following acute disease, chronically-infected patients display intermittent flare-ups of HCV RNA which coincide with rising serum aminotransferases. Anti-HCV antibodies are usually detectable but not always in chronically-infected patients.
Clinical Consequences
  • Initial Infection
    • Acute Viral Hepatitis: Is generally observed upon initial infection although not always. This is associated with classic symptoms of jaundice. Rising serum aminotransferases are almost always detectable during an acute infection.
  • Chronic Infection
    • Chronic Viral Hepatitis: Develops in nearly 80% of individuals who are exposed to HCV. Chronic HCV infection is generally asymptomatic and characterized by episodic flare ups in HCV RNA which coincide with spikes in serum aminotransferases.