Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. Most infected people initially don’t have any symptoms. When present, symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, jaundice and pain in the stomach area.
It is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person such as sharing needles and other drug equipment, tattooing or piercing with unsterilized equipment. For more information on hepatitis C, see the health unit’s fact sheet on hepatitis C. There is no vaccine to prevent against hepatitis C.
About one quarter of people who are infected with hepatitis C will clear the virus on their own within the first six months after infection. The other three quarters of people infected with hepatitis C develop chronic infection and may require treatment to fight the virus.
The following graph shows the number of new hepatitis C cases in Simcoe Muskoka between 2005 and 2015. There have been between 108 and 197 cases of hepatitis C diagnosed in Simcoe Muskoka residents each year since 2005. In 2015, 186 cases of hepatitis C were reported in Simcoe Muskoka
The following graph shows the incidence rate of hepatitis C cases in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario between 2000 and 2015. In 2015, the incidence rate for Simcoe Muskoka was 33.9 cases per 100,000 population and the Ontario rate was 30.8 cases per 100,000 population.
More detailed data for Ontario and each health unit can be found on Public Health Ontario’s interactive Snapshots tool, by clicking on “Select Indicator”.
There are many factors that influence how many cases are reported to the health unit, as explained on the Infectious Diseases page.
Similar to other chronic infectious diseases such as HIV, the number of people who can spread hepatitis C is not only the number of new cases (incidence) every year; it is also the number of existing cases (prevalence) from previous years. The provincial reportable disease database (iPHIS) counts incidence and not prevalence so the graphs below only show the number of new cases every year and not existing cases. Therefore, the number of people infected with hepatitis C in Simcoe Muskoka (who can spread the disease) is higher than the numbers shown in the graphs.
The data prior to 2005 contain duplicate records so they are not reliable enough to release. It is also important to note that for hepatitis C, the number of new cases in a year represents the number of people who had a positive test and often does not reflect the year of infection. Many people have been infected for a while with no symptoms and find out about their status years later.