Hepatitis C is not transmitted efficiently through occupational exposures to blood, with an overall incidence of transmission of about 1.8 percent (range 0 – 7 percent). However, the risk is real. HCV infection is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States (most not through occupational exposures,) and approximately 85 percent of HCV-infected persons develop chronic HCV infection. HCV infection is usually asymptomatic; it is often detected at the time of a routine physical examination (if routine liver-function tests are abnormal) or blood donation (donated blood is screened for HCV).

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in 1994 concluded that the use of Immunoglobulins (antibodies) was not indicated after exposure to HCV, because antibodies were not shown to be effective.

The latest data suggest that treatment of acute hepatitis C with interferon (an immune system stimulant) may cure close to 100 percent of cases. Prior to the publication of this paper, it was noted that 15-25 percent of cases of acute hepatitis C resolve spontaneously, and thus no consensus was reached regarding treatment of acute infection.

For a more detailed discussion of Hepatitis C, please see the IAFF Hepatitis C site.

(The above reflects information from: Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis Vol 50, No RR11;1 06/29/2001)