It's a dangerous drug that's now linked to the increase of a deadly viral disease. A study from 2011 found the primary cause of hepatitis C infection was from people sharing needles to inject heroin.
The number of cases has more than doubled in north central Wis. since 2000, with 50 confirmed cases in Marathon, Portage and Wood Counties alone.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that's become cheaper and more accessible in recent years, traveling quickly to smaller communities in Wis. via dealers in Chicago. Users can shoot it into their veins or muscles, and often share the needles, which spreads infections like hepatitis C.
The virus causes swelling of the liver, killing approximately 15,000 people each year. There is no cure or vaccine. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever and jaundice, but many carriers don't experience symptoms when they're first infected. They can then unknowingly spread hepatitis C to other drug users, sexual partners, even a mother can give it to her baby. Prevention is the best solution.
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