Hepatitis C cases soar with Maine heroin epidemic

Maine is undergoing its worst acute hepatitis C outbreak since it began recording cases in the 1990s. Reported cases of the disease have soared since 2013, corresponding with skyrocketing heroin use, and are more than triple the national average.

The heroin epidemic is causing many undesirable ripple effects in Maine, public health advocates say, including the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C.

Acute cases – a six-month infection where symptoms manifest themselves – more than tripled from 2013 to 2014, from nine to 31, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. At the same time, chronic hepatitis C – long-term infections that can sometimes last a lifetime – increased 25 percent, from 1,142 cases in 2010 to 1,425 in 2014.


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