Free hepatitis C screenings set

WOODSTOCK – In honor of Public Health Week, which will be April 6-12, the McHenry County Department of Health is offering free hepatitis C screenings to residents 18 and older.

Screenings are available April 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at the Annex B facility, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock.

Appointments are required.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Risk factors include:

• Receiving blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C.

• Sharing needles or syringes to inject drugs.

• Receiving a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before July 1992.

• Receiving a clotting factor made before 1987.

• Having ever been on long-term kidney dialysis.

• Receiving body piercings or tattoos with nonsterile instruments.

• Suffering needle stick injuries in health care settings.

Hepatitis C is one of the most frequently reported diseases to the health department’s Communicable Disease Program, with 77 cases reported last year, a decrease from the 110 cases reported in 2007, according to a health department news release.

In many cases, there are no symptoms of the disease until liver problems develop.

Many people are unaware that they have the disease until donating blood or having a blood test.

For information about the free hepatitis C screenings or to schedule an appointment, call the health department at 815-334-4500.