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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a RNA virus that belongs to the Flaviviridae family. It was first detected in 1989 and is an enveloped virus that has a very limited range of hosts that includes humans and chimpanzees.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection and there are several genotypes of this virus that can infect humans leading to damage to the liver either in the short term or in the long term. These genotypes of the virus are defined according to the differences in the molecular structures of these viruses.
The incubation period of acute hepatitis C is usually between 6 and 9 weeks this means that it takes around 6 to 9 weeks for the infection to become evident after a person has contracted the virus. The routes of transmission of this infection is usually via blood and other body fluids.
Acute hepatitis C is usually asymptomatic and there may be no evidence of the illness. Transmission from these asymptomatic individuals who show no symptoms or signs of the infection is one of the reasons why this infection poses such a public health threat.
This infection is highly contagious. Smallest amounts of blood from an infected person, even if it has dried for up to two weeks can carry the infection. Hepatitis C virus can be transmitted from one infected person to another via these routes –
Due to the above mentioned routes of transmission of HCV, the risk factors associated with HCV infection include;