WHO observing World Hepatitis Day

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunday, the World Health Organization and partners celebrate World Hepatitis Day to increase the awareness and understanding of the hepatitis virus and diseases it causes. This year continues with the theme “This is Hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.”

The Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E all can cause chronic infection and inflammation of the liver, which may to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide about 240 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and about 150 million with Hepatitis C. Receiving vaccines for Hepatitis A and B can help prevent the disease. Currently there are no vaccines for Hepatitis C, D and E.

Hepatitis B and C are transmitted through the blood or other body fluids from an infected person, while Hepatitis A is usually spread when the Hepatitis A virus is taken in by mouth from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. Symptoms of hepatitis may vary but common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, fatigue and yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Treatment of the hepatitis virus varies. A healthcare professional should be consulted when there is a possible or known exposure to any type of hepatitis virus. Careful screening for hepatitis is important in order to determine the best option for each patient.

For more information contact the Beaufort County Health Department by visiting www.bchd.net or call 252-946-1902. Information is also available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s viral hepatitis page at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm.