An estimated 3% of the world's population is chronically infected with Hepatitis C Virus. According to the WHO, 130–150 million people globally have a chronic Hepatitis C infection and a significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Approximately 500,000 people die each year from Hepatitis C-related liver diseases.
Although the Hepatitis C Virus was discovered about 25 years ago, its origin remained obscure largely because no closely related animal virus homolog had been identified before 2011.
Further analysis suggested a divergence time of the most recent ancestor of both viruses within the past 500-1,000 years, well after the domestication of canines. Which might mean that dogs got the virus from humans.
Non-human primates have been long suspected as harbouring viruses related to (Human) Hepatitis C Virus. A radical re-think of both the host range and host-specificity of Hepatitis C Viruses is now required following the these findings of a non-primate hepacivirus (NPHV) in horses and in dogs. Further research on a much wider range of mammals is needed to better understand the true genetic diversity of Hepatitis C-like viruses and their host ranges in the search for the ultimate origin of Hepatitis C Virus in humans.
 Lozano et al: Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study in The Lancet - 2012
 Kapoor et al: Characterization of a canine homolog of hepatitis C virus in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - 2011
 Simmonds: The origin of hepatitis C virus in Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology - 2013