Thousands at risk of contracting deadly virus through daily hygiene habit

Thousands of people are potentially at risk of contracting hepatitis C, and don’t know how to spot it.

Hepatitis C symptoms treatments spread toothbrushes razors
© wutwhanfoto / GETTYIMAGES
Hepatitis C symptoms treatments spread toothbrushes razors

The bathroom is where we go to clean ourselves, but what do we leave behind after we’ve completed our daily washing routine? We’ve already covered the dirtiest part of the bathroom that people tend to forget to clean, and now we’re moving on to dental hygiene. Think back to this morning, where did you put your toothbrush after you used it? If you share your living space, it’s likely nestled in next to several others. Now be honest, have you ever picked up the wrong one - or used someone else’s as a last resort?

Discover our latest podcast

Well, new data released this week suggests that doing so could spread hepatitis C, a potentially fatal disease. The results show that around 70,000 people in the UK do not realise they are living with this health issue as most people don’t know what it is.

Here’s what hepatitis C is, how the disease is spread, and what symptoms look like.

What is hepatitis C?

According to the NHS, hepatitis C is a virus that can infect the liver. If left untreated, it can sometimes cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver over many years.

Thankfully, with modern treatments, this virus is very treatable. Using simple antivirals will cure it in almost all cases if the virus is detected during the early stages of infection. However, this can be a challenge as the virus is relatively unknown.

The testing company Preventx commissioned a recent survey that showed 63% of the UK population are not aware of how the virus is spread. Shockingly, 71% do not even know its common symptoms.

Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, warned:

With public awareness of hepatitis C so low, there is a lack of testing within the general public – there may be thousands of people who do not know they are at risk of the virus.

How the disease is spread

Hepatitis is spread through blood-to-blood contact. It is commonly transmitted through shared needles during drug use, but sharing razors and toothbrushes can also transmit the virus from one person to another.

You can get it through unprotected sex, though this is very rare. Halford explained:

If you are concerned about hepatitis C, it’s never been easier to get tested. The at-home testing kit from the NHS will help you to quickly and confidentially find out if you have the virus so that you can start your treatment straight away.

Symptoms of hepatitis C

The signs you have the virus are hard to detect, as they are common issues we face for other reasons too. According to the NHS, this is what you should look out for:

  • ‘flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling tired all the time
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach ache
  • feeling and being sick’

If you have hepatitis, it is not a reason to panic. The treatment has recently progressed from 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon (a weekly injection) and ribavirin (a capsule or tablet) to a simple tablet-only course. The treatment usually takes several weeks, but hepatitis is generally not fatal.

So, if you are at all concerned, you should take a test to protect yourself and those closest to you.

Read more:

Woman ‘went blind on purpose’ using drain cleaner to fulfill lifelong dream of being disabled

Shocking study shows why you really should clean the strap of your smartwatch

Here's the very real reason why you should clean your microwave more often

Sources used:

Mirror: Thousands live with potentially deadly virus spread by toothbrushes - but there's a cure

NHS: Hepatitis C

This deadly virus could be making its way to the UK and its symptoms are not so obvious This deadly virus could be making its way to the UK and its symptoms are not so obvious