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Snakebite Venom!!
By Mona Lease

Hi, all!! Again - for you faint-of-heart readers, you'll probably want to stop reading here. I spoke with a young gentleman who resides in Darke County. He was tested for something. His liver blood levels were high. Another test. "You have Hepatitis C" - a viral thing. I asked how he got it. He said he knew the girl  he was "in love" with had it. They shared needles. She overdosed and died. He said after her death he missed her. He told me that he had wanted something by which to remember her. So along with the sting of the "snakebite" (the needle's entry into a vein) and just as a real snakebite leaves venom...so this "snakebite" left a type of venom - Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a blood-born virus - HVC. People are infected with this virus by sharing "dirty" needles and other equipment.

In the beginning, the symptoms are mild or there are none. There can be fever, dark urine, abdominal pain, or yellow-tinged skin. Some people have unusual bruising for no apparent reason. If left untreated or you are never tested - the virus can cause cirrhosis or liver disease.

If you have cirrhosis - which is a hardening or scarring of the liver - the symptoms progress from those listed above to swelling in the lower legs, fluid build-up in the abdomen. bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus or stomach. This disease can progress to confusion and unconsciousness. Antiviral medications may be used to treat the Hepatitis virus. There is a high incidence of cancers related to Hepatitis C.

The acute signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C are decreased appetite, nausea, muscle or joint pain and weight loss. Chronic infection is what causes the cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.

It is possible to appear to be clear of the virus but remain infected. Hep C can be spread through sexual intercourse. High-risk for this are those with multiple partners. The recommendation is to use a condom for more than one steady partner.

Personal items like razors, toothbrushes, and manicure/pedicure tools can become contaminated with blood...blood you can not see. Even one drop can infect you. Hep C can be transmitted mother-to-child. It is not clear if the transmission is during the pregnancy or from the actual delivery. It is also unclear if breastmilk contains the virus and Mothers are advised to avoid breastfeeding.

Specialized  blood tests are used to diagnose the existence (or nonexistence, if you prefer) of Hepatitis C. Liver biopsies are performed to determine the degree of liver damage present and this procedure carries risks. As of 2016 - there is no approved vaccine to prevent contracting Hepatitis C.

You faithful readers (thanks, much!!) knew I'd have a question somewhere.....right? Here's my question:

What will make you iv-drug users quit - other than death?? Hepatitis C looks to be as bad as AIDS...chronic infection and the continual possibility of spreading the virus to others - to name the top two on the "hit parade" of symptoms/tests associated with the virus. Be aware: Hep C is in Darke County.

Remember the kiddies and our service people. Take good care of the furry and feathered ones out there. Be safe and healthy. See ya next time. Ever Toodles!! MONA


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