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Sunday January 15, 2006

Check blood for Hepatitis C, transfusion patients urged


KUALA LUMPUR: Patients who received blood transfusions before 1997 have been asked to check their blood to ensure they are not infected with Hepatitis C. 

Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Mohd Ismail Merican advised those who were infected with the disease to seek immediate treatment.  

“Blood screening for Hepatitis C has been carried out since 1997. Those who received blood transfusions before then should check their blood,” he told reporters after delivering a keynote address on hepatitis at a health seminar here yesterday.  

There were 745 cases of Hepatitis C reported in 2004 compared with 33 in 1996. 

Dr Mohd Ismail said there was an increase in the number of Hepatitis C cases after blood screening was done on foreign workers in the country.  

Another high-risk group was drug addicts.  

Dr Mohd Ismail said Hepatitis C was now treated in the country through the pegylated interferon combination therapy or the anti-viral drug ribavirion. . 

However, he said it was better to prevent the disease or reduce the risk by avoiding unscreened blood transfusions or unsafe injections. . 

He said those who felt unusually tired should also check for Hepatitis C. 

Dr Mohd Ismail said that overall, Hepatitis A and B cases had declined as the country become more developed.  

The number of Hepatitis A cases had dropped as more people were aware of their food intake and personal hygiene, he added. – Bernama  

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