Here is a breakdown of how the disease is transmitted and tips on how it can be avoided.
Hepatitis results in the inflammation of the liver. Its causes include viruses‚ bacteria‚ parasites‚ toxins and autoimmune diseases where a person’s immune system attacks their own body.
“Viral hepatitis is however‚ the most common cause by far‚” said Dr Vernon Wessels‚ from ER24. Hepatitis infection may present with little or no symptoms or nausea and vomiting‚ abdominal pain‚ tiredness‚ jaundice and dark urine. Severe cases can result in coma and death
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates indicate that 400-million people are affected worldwide yet up to 95% of people do not know that they are infected.
To help people better understand the disease‚ risk factors and possible effects‚ Dr Wessels said in a statement on Thursday:
• Hepatitis B‚ C and D is commonly transmitted through contaminated needles and instruments‚ sexual contact‚ blood and body fluids as well as from mother to baby. Healthcare workers can be exposed to the blood and body fluids of patients and‚ if not immunised‚ could be at risk of developing hepatitis.
Hepatitis B‚ C‚ D can cause acute (short duration) hepatitis. The person may recover from the initial infection and become a chronic carrier of the infection. These viruses can also result in chronic (long-term) hepatitis. Risks include permanent damage to the liver such as liver cirrhosis‚ liver cancer and liver failure. Hepatitis B‚ C and D can be avoided by ensuring safe sexual practices (as for HIV)‚ immunisation and safe handling of contaminated medical instruments‚ needles and waste.
• Hepatitis A and E are usually acquired through consumption of contaminated food or water and is prevalent in areas where poor sanitation exists. These infections tend to only cause acute infection and after recovery‚ the person is immune to further infection.
However‚ some individuals may develop a serious life-threatening infection. Hepatitis A and E can be prevented by ensuring good hygiene practices like proper hand washing and washing and cooking of food. Avoid food and water sources contaminated by faeces. Also ensure you are immunised against the disease.
Source: Times Live