HEALTH chiefs have revealed that the number of cases of hepatitis C in the region have increased.
Figures by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveal 270 new cases of the disease in the north east in 2011, compared to 261 in 2010 and 139 in 2007.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by a virus.
The virus causes inflammation of the liver and, when left untreated, can result in chronic liver disease, liver failure, or even death.
Dr Deb Wilson, hepatitis lead for the HPA in the north east, said: “Many people are unaware that they are infected with the virus because they have no symptoms at all.
“If people think that they may have been exposed to the virus, it is vital that they contact their GP for a test.
“The earlier they are diagnosed the better, as they will have a greater chance of successfully treating their infection.
“The majority of hepatitis C infections can be treated successfully or prevented from occurring in the first place, yet new infections continue to occur and many existing infections remain undiagnosed.”
Injecting drugs with unsterile injecting equipment can put an individual at risk of infection. Others at risk of infection include those who have received blood transfusions before September 1991 or blood products before 1986 in the UK.