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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

  


 

Tampa Firefighter dies due to complications from Hepatitis-C. Three other Firefighters test positive.

2,100 Philadelphia Firefighters tested for Hepatitis-C. More than 6% test positive, 300% greater than the national average of 1.8% for the general population.

These headlines are becoming far to common for Firefighters and Emergency workers. Alan P. Brownstein, President and CEO of The American Liver Foundation, states "Hepatitis-C, as an emerging infectious disease, is one of the most serious public health problems that the United States will face as we begin the new millennium."

 


  • The Hepatitis-C Virus (Hepatitis C Virus) was first identified in 1989.
  • Four million Americans have been exposed to Hepatitis C Virus and many do not realize they are infected.
  • 10,000 Patients die every year in the united States due to Hepatitis C Virus related causes. The number of deaths is expected to increase to 30,000 annually in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent against Hepatitis-C.
  • There is no cure for Hepatitis-C.
  • Hepatitis C Virus is the number one cause of liver transplantation.
  • Many times Hepatitis-C is undiagnosed due to the mild symptoms in the early stages as a result 80-90% of cases become chronic and lead to liver disease.

The American Liver Foundation included Firefighters in its group of people that are more vulnerable to Hepatitis C Virus. Firefighters who in the course of their duties find themselves in many situations where they are exposed to blood, this increases their risk of exposure to Hepatitis-C. This is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an October 1998 report on Hepatitis-C "Healthcare, Emergency Medical (e.g., Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics), and Public Safety Workers (e.g., Fire service, Law Enforcement ...) who have exposure to blood in the workplace are at risk for being infected with Blood Borne Pathogens." Almost any direct or indirect exposure to infected blood can transmit the Hepatitis-C virus.

 


Hepatitis-C is one of several Communicable Diseases that Fire and Emergency workers need protection from by means of Presumptive Legislation. The Tampa Firefighters affected by Hepatitis-C will be considered occupationally exposed if they meet certain criteria as spelled out in Florida's "Presumption of Exposure" statute (112.181 F.S.). Florida's statute covers Meningcococcal Meningitis and Tuberculosis as well as Hepatitis. New York State and California also have Presumptive statutes covering Blood Borne Pathogens including HIV, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis. There are currently several Senate and House Bills in the Legislative process in Pennsylvania that call for the Screening, Diagnosis, Treatment, Follow Up, Education and Presumption of Exposure for Communicable Diseases. There are several States which currently have different degrees of Communicable Diseases Legislation under revue.

Michigan has the unique opportunity to help protect those who protect others. Hepatitis-C, The Silent Epidemic, needs to be brought to the forefront. The Thousands of Fire Service and Emergency workers in Michigan deserve the peace of mind that comes with Presumptive / Communicable Disease Legislation.