HEPATITIS c Virus prevention IN EGYPT
Reducing Transmission by Reducing Exposure
How do people in Egypt get infected with Hepatitis C virus
and how can they protect themselves, their family and their friends

Hepatitis C virus is spread from one person to another person by blood.  How can this happen? There are many ways that this can happen:  

  1. A person is bleeding and there is blood on the person on the persons cloths on the table, chair, and they could bleed onto anything.
    1. This blood can be easily cleaned off with soap and water. But the blood may spill on important medical or dental equipment or instruments.  
    2. Blood on medical or dental instruments or equipment is dangerous. If this blood is from a person infected with HCV then this equipment will be contaminated with the virus.
    3. If any of these contaminated instruments or equipment are used on a patient, the patient could get infected with the virus.
  2. A medical or dental person or assistant uses an instrument or a medical or dental equipment that was used for another patient.
    1. The instrument or equipment was not cleaned or sterilized before using it on another patient
    2. The instruments became contaminated because someone bled on them.
    3. The hands of the nurse or doctor or other assistant had blood on them and they did not wash their hands or put on clean new latex gloves and picked up the instrument with bloody hands.
  3. Injections: Egyptians get millions of injections every year. Some of these injections may use clean sterile needles and sterile syringes.
    1. Giving a safe injection requires training and only trained persons should give injections.
    2. Needles and syringes should be used only once and never reused.
  4. Medical and dental procedures: there are hundreds of different medical and dental procedures that can spread HCV
    1. Every instrument the dentist uses in your mouth can be contaminated from another patient if the instrument has not been cleaned and sterilized.
    2. Doctors or nurses or other assistants use a needle or any instrument that goes through the skin and is not clean and sterile can infect you with HCV.
    3. Doctors and dentists use many different instruments and if the instrument is reused and not clean and sterile you can be infected with HCV.  
  5. Sticking your finger for blood: For example the doctor, or assistant, the laboratory assistant sticks your figure to get a sample of blood for testing. If they use the same needle or lancet that was used on another patient, you can get infected with HCV.
  6. Multi-dose vials. Many medications that are injected come in small glass bottle or vial. These vials have more than one dose of medication and are used to give injections to more than one person. However, a new sterile needle and syringe have to be used each time or the vial can be contaminated with HCV and then every person after that will be infected with HCV. This potentially is a huge problem. Please see the illustrations on this link.

Iatrogenic infections play an important role in HCV transmission and prevention in Egypt. These are infections that occur unintentionally from medical or dental procedures. For example, injections with HCV contaminated needles or syringes from trained or untrained medical or dental workers can transmit infection. Like injections, there are many other medical and dental procedures that cut, pierce, or puncture the skin. Any procedure that can cause bleeding can in turn contaminate a medical or dental instrument and then if used before being cleaned or disinfected, can infect someone else. These unintended infections are called iatrogenic infections. Sometimes medical or dental workers, including doctors and their assistants, have not been correctly trained, or are careless, want to save money, or in some cases have not received any training at all.

To help prevent you or your family from possibly becoming infected ask your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or any health care professional: Can you please tell me how I can protect myself from getting infected with hepatitis c virus?

Also ask yourself this question:  “is this medical or dental care I am going to get, is it safe? Could I get virus C infection from this medical or dental care?

It is important to ask your doctor or dentist or anyone who is giving you medical, dental, or cosmetic care to advise you how to avoid iatrogenic exposure to HCV.

Ask this question to your doctor and their assistants.
Ask this question to your dentist and their assistants.
Ask the nurse or any health care provider.

There are many people in Egypt who provide medical care, for example injections, who are not trained and have little or no knowledge about preventing HCV.

Be sure to ask this question to anyone who is giving you medical care, especially if you think they have not received formal training or does not have a degree.

Iatrogenic transmission of HCV is possible when disinfection and sterilization techniques are inadequate, and contaminated equipment is shared among patients. In particular, studies have shown that HCV infection can occur among patients on hemodialysis, due to poor infection control, and the sharing of contaminated multidose medical vials and supplies (World Health Organization. Hepatitis C - Global Surveillance Update. Weekly Epidemiological Record 75:17-28, 2000.)

In Egypt, iatrogenic infections have been linked to the origin of this public health problem. One hypothesis is that more than 50 years ago before the advent of disposable medical equipment, needles and glass syringes and other medical and dental equipment were not properly cleaned and sterilized before re-use. Countless injections and procedures were done with contaminated equipment. With the introduction of disposal medical and dental equipment, some of this iatrogenic infection has been reduced.

Another important advancement was the introduction of screening blood donors for HCV and eliminating those who were HCV positive from the blood banking system.  This was a world wide development to reduce and eliminate HCV transmission by blood transfusion, other blood products, and transplantation of organs. Screening blood donors for HCV in
Egypt has been very successful in reducing HCV transmission by blood transfusion.

Nevertheless, Iatrogenic transmission of HCV continues to play a major role in Egypt.  see References

Giving or donating blood in Egypt is safe. It is very important to know the difference between giving blood and receiving a blood transfusion. Giving blood is one of the greatest humanitarian gifts that anyone can give.

NOTE: This page was designed for Egyptians and others living in Egypt. and not for travelers to Egypt. Nevertheless, advise for travelers, See Travel to Egypt.