Ways and means of preventing Hepatitis

Mysuru, July 28:- World Hepatitis Day is celebrated every year on 28th July. World Health Organisation (WHO) designated this day to increase awareness about all types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E) among the people around the world. Among all these, Hepatitis B virus is a life threatening virus, which attacks the liver and causes acute and chronic disease, is more dangerous and it is also an important occupational hazard for health workers.  It may lead to liver cirrhosis and hepato cellular carcinoma (liver cancer).

The well-known jaundice is caused by this virus. The symptoms include yellowing of the skin, dark tallow urine, nausea, and vomiting. It can spread through various body fluids including blood, saliva, menstrual, vaginal, and seminal fluids.  In children below 6 years of age, it may turn into chronic disease. With an intention of eliminating Hepatitis,
WHO initiated a programme for a period of five years starting from 2016 with a target to reduce new viral hepatitis infections by 90 per cent and deaths by viral hepatitis by 65 per cent by the year 2030.

A total of 11 countries including India carry the burden of 50 per cent of world hepatitis cases. The other countries include Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Vietnam.  An estimated 257 million people are living with Hepatitis B virus infection and in 2015,  8.87 lakh people died of Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis A is caused by drinking unclean water, lack of sanitation and hygiene, especially dirty hands. However, it may not lead to the death of a patient. With one attack a person gets life-long immunity. HBV and HDV can get transmitted through contact with body fluids of the affected person.  HBV, HCV, and HDV can spread through blood products, non-sterile hospital equipment, unsafe injections, etc.

With a good sanitation and hygiene and by using safe drinking water, it can be prevented to a certain extent. Vaccination is a preventive measure to get the protection of Hepatitis viruses and WHO recommends hepatitis B vaccine for all infants preferably within 24 hours of the birth. Preventing the transmission of these viruses with all possible precautions is more important to decrease its occurrence.

-(Dr S V N Vijayendra)

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