Hepatitis C now kills more Americans than any other infectious disease

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Hepatitis C Now Kills More Americans Than Any Other Infectious Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that one infectious disease now kills more Americans than all others combined.

New data shows hepatitis C killed nearly 20,000 people in 2014. Even more worrying for doctors is that an estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. have the hepatitis C virus, but half of them don't even know.

Hepatitis C symptoms, like fever, nausea and joint pain are often too mild to warrant a trip to the doctor, so it sometimes goes undiagnosed.

The virus can usually be knocked out with a 12-week pill regimen, but if left untreated, it can cause cirrhosis or cancer in the liver.

Most of those killed by hepatitis C are baby boomers because the virus was unknown to doctors when they were kids.

RELATED: See the most underfunded diseases:

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Hepatitis C now kills more Americans than any other infectious disease

18. Prostate cancer

Funding per Death: $10,395
Deaths in 2013: 27,682
Total Funding in 2015: $287,746,995
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

17. Ovarian Cancer

Funding per Death: $8,282
Deaths in 2013: 14,276
Total Funding in 2015: $118,228,637
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

16. Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis

Funding per Death: $8,087
Deaths in 2013: 36,427
Total Funding in 2015: $294,592,023
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

15. Alzheimer's Disease

Funding per Death: $6,951
Deaths in 2013: 84,767
Total Funding in 2015: $589,204,366
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

14. Colo-Rectal Cancer

Funding per Death: $5,905
Deaths in 2013: 52,252
Total Funding in 2015: $308,539,973
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

13. Parkinson's Disease

Funding per Death: $5,804
Deaths in 2013: 25,196
Total Funding in 2015: $146,226,134
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

12. Hypertension

Funding per Death: $5,763
Deaths in 2013: 37,144
Total Funding in 2015: $214,050,133
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

11. Uterine Cancer

Funding per Death: $5,598
Deaths in 2013: 9,325
Total Funding in 2015: $52,205,435
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

10. Digestive Diseases - Peptic Ulcer

Funding per Death: $5,191
Deaths in 2013: 2,988
Total Funding in 2015: $15,510,306
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

9. Pancreatic Cancer

Funding per Death: $4,460
Deaths in 2013: 38,996
Total Funding in 2015: $173,911,461
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

8. Liver Cancer

Funding per Death: $3,539
Deaths in 2013: 24,032
Total Funding in 2015: $85,058,323
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

7. Septicemia

Funding per Death: $2,711
Deaths in 2013: 38,156
Total Funding in 2015: $103,427,554
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

6. Digestive Diseases - Gallbladder

Funding per Death: $2,374
Deaths in 2013: 3,377
Total Funding in 2015: $8,015,404
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

5. Stroke

Funding per Death: $2,233
Deaths in 2013: 128,978
Total Funding in 2015: $287,984,427
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

4. Lung Cancer

Funding per Death: $2,232
Deaths in 2013: 156,252
Total Funding in 2015: $348,755,072
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

3. Pneumonia

Funding per Death: $2,100
Deaths in 2013: 53,282
Total Funding in 2015: $111,914,006
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases(in the U.S.): $11,691

2. Heart Disease

Funding per Death: $2,065
Deaths in 2013: 611,105
Total Funding in 2015: $1,261,640,505
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Funding per Death: $663
Deaths in 2013: 145,575
Total Funding in 2015: $96,584,162
Average Funding Per Death for All Diseases (in the U.S.): $11,691

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The CDC's Dr. John Ward told CBS: "Blood banks were not screening the blood supply for hepatitis C and many people got infected that way. Also, health care systems were not as diligent in practicing good infection control."

And most new cases are generally found in young people with a history of intravenous drug use, since the virus is passed either through blood or sexual contact.

The CDC recommends one-time testing for everyone born between 1945 and 1965 and regular testing for those with a high risk of contracting the virus.

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