Hepatitis C and Cats

There seems to be a lot written lately about Hepatitis C. It is a disease that can develop into cancer causing liver failure.

There is a herb that grows in the Peruvian Amazon and sold as an over the counter drug in South America called Cats Claw. It contains substances in its inner bark that boost the immune system. Used for centuries in South America, researchers are finding many medical uses for it including Hepatitis C.

If cancer develops in the liver, a liver transplant maybe the only chance for survival. The University of Massachusetts is developing a new antibody to neutralize the virus and prevent infection but is still in the testing stage.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a combination of two drugs, interferon and ribavirin, taking over a long period of time is having good results. The downside is the side effects of the treatment including anemia, cardiovascular and psychiatric problems.

It is the most common blood borne infection in the United States and is generally found in intravenous drug users. It is spread by contact with blood. Medical, dental, rescue and military personnel can be exposed when treatment is administered. Body piercing and tattoo implements and shared personal care items if not properly cleaned after use can transmit the virus.

It can be cured but the cure rate is less than 50%. It must be treated to possibly be cured. Whether Cats Claw, a possible herbal cure, or drugs developed by researchers is used, the best cure is prevention. The Hepatitis Foundation International has recommendations for vaccination and avoidance for the disease. Although the disease may not develop into cancer, it can be present for life.

Hepatitis C has not been shown to affect animals including cats. The only animal model is the chimpanzee. An animal cannot contract the virus from a human. If an animal bites or scratches a human with the virus, licking the humans blood will not give the animal the virus. Conversely, a human cannot get the virus from an animal. Viruses can mutate as shown by the recent H1N1 pandemic. Exposure to Hepatitis C or any virus may cause problems for humans and/or animals.