WORLD HEPATITIS DAY is celebrated to raise awareness regarding viral hepatitis with the goal of eradicating this disease. Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of liver.
There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. As per World Health Organization (WHO), 300 million people across the world are infected with Hepatitis, yet unaware of it and do not undergo treatment. It is essential to be proactive about your liver health and get tested for hepatitis. Over time, untreated hepatitis B or C can cause hardening and scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, which can cause complications like liver cancer or liver failure.
Types of Hepatitis:
There are at least five different types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E.
Hepatitis A is spread by either direct contact with an infected person’s feces or by indirect fecal contamination of food or water.
- Light stool
- Dark urine
Maintaining high levels of hygiene, before and after meals, while cooking and after using the washroom is a good way to prevent hepatitis A. Take the Hepatitis A vaccination.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be spread through:
- Body fluids
- Mother to child
Symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
A blood test helps diagnose Hepatitis B. There is a vaccine available to protect people at high risk for the infection. Practice safe sex, do not share needles or razors, and get tattoos done only at hygienic places.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is most commonly spread by exposure due to contaminated blood or needles, and unsafe sex. Symptoms for HCV are similar to other types of hepatitis. There’s no vaccine available for Hepatitis C.
Unlike the other forms, hepatitis D can’t be contracted on its own. It can only infect people who are already infected with hepatitis B. People with HBV often develop hepatitis D (HDV).
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is found in underdeveloped areas of the hepatitis E are related to poor sanitation, contaminated drink water, and poor personal hygiene.
Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E are different viruses with different modes of transmission and clinical manifestations. While Hepatitis A and E are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food, Hepatitis B and C are transmitted by blood transfusion, unprotected sex, and tattoos. Hepatitis D occurs only in patients with Hepatitis B.
Absence of jaundice does not rule out acute hepatitis viral infection, which can present sometimes only with constitutional symptoms such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy with high liver enzymes.
Hepatitis is not a genetic disease and is not inherited. However, Hepatitis B is often transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. This can be prevented if the Hepatitis status of the mother is known and the newborn is vaccinated on time.
Patients with Hepatitis A get lifelong protection against hepatitis A only. One is still at risk of infection with other forms of hepatitis like B, C, and E.
Hepatitis B virus can survive in dried blood for up to 7 days and remains capable of causing infection. Hepatitis C virus can survive on environmental surfaces for up to 16 hours.
Vaccines are available only against Hepatitis A and B.
Hepatitis A is the type of infection you get from eating contaminated water or foods. You could get very, very sick from it, but it doesn’t go on to be a chronic infection.”
Vaccines protect against hepatitis A, and are especially important for children and travelers.
Hepatitis B is the second virus that was identified, and that is one that can cause a chronic infection. We’re fortunate that we have a very, very effective vaccine for hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids. The virus can cause liver damage and death. We do not have a vaccine for it. But we have in the last several years very, very effective therapies to treat hepatitis C.