Could sharps injury victims be at an increased risk of Parkinsons disease

Thursday March 30 2017

Further concerns for the long-term health of sharps injury victims have been raised in light of new research that has found a possible link between hepatitis C and the development of Parkinson's disease.

The transmission of hepatitis C - and other blood-borne diseases - is a major risk factor for people affected by a needlestick injury, often leaving the victims of sharps accidents needing urgent medical tests and potentially leading to them requiring medication and monitoring for the rest of their lives.

Now, new research published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology has identified a link between the blood-borne virus and the onset of the degenerative condition Parkinson's disease.

Scientists analysed the health records of more than 100,000 people from a British database, all of whom had either hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV - all of which can be spread through sharps injuries or via the use of contaminated needles. These records were compared against data relating to six million people with only minor health conditions.

It was found that people with hepatitis C were 51 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in later life than their otherwise relatively healthy counterparts, while the risk of Parkinson's for hepatitis B sufferers increased by 76 per cent.

If everyone involved in the analysis had been healthy, 49 cases of Parkinson's would have been expected to develop over the course of the study, but 73 occurred among hepatitis C sufferers alone. Meanwhile, 44 Parkinson's disease diagnoses were given to people living with hepatitis B.

Julia Pakpoor of the University of Oxford was the lead author of the study. She stated: "The development of Parkinson's disease is complex, with both genetic and environmental factors.

"It's possible that the hepatitis virus itself or perhaps the treatment for the infection could play a role in triggering Parkinson's disease or it's possible that people who are susceptible to hepatitis infections are also more susceptible to Parkinson's disease.

"We hope that identifying this relationship may help us to better understand how Parkinson's disease develops."

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