July 29, 2018 • Constance Uwase
Dear Kasha family, in light of World Hepatitis Day which is July 28th, we have prepared a blog with key points to know about hepatitis A, B, and C.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis and there are five main types: A,B,C, D and E but infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. The condition can be self-limiting or develop into more critical conditions such as fibrosis (scarring) of the liver or liver cancer.
How is it contracted?
Hepatitis A can be found in the feces of people who have the disease. It can be spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the virus and also by close contact with an infected person (e.g. having sex or living in the same household).
Hepatitis B is found in blood and certain body fluids. The virus is transmitted when blood or fluid from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not immune.This can happen during unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, the sharing of needles, exposure to contaminated sharp objects, or transferred from an infected mother to a baby during birth.
Hepatitis C is also found in blood and some body fluids.It can be transmitted by sharing contaminated needles, through exposure to contaminated sharp objects, and transferred from a mother to her baby during birth. It is possible to contract as well through sexual intercourse with an infected person but rarer.
Is there a vaccination?
There is a vaccination for hepatitis A and B. However, there is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
Treatment and Recovery
The majority of people who contract hepatitis A are able to recover and the condition does not develop into a chronic infection. There is no treatment for this virus strain and doctors only prescribe supportive medication to alleviate the symptoms until a person recovers. Hepatitis B can develop into a chronic condition especially when contracted as a child. In addition, people with chronic hepatitis B infection have a higher risk of developing liver failure or liver cancer. There is antiviral medication to treat hepatitis B, the drugs prevent serious liver problems but do not get rid of the virus. When the liver damage is too severe a liver transplant is usually the last resort for this strain. Hepatitis C is treated with antiviral medication.
Hepatitis A and B can be prevented through immunization. In addition, for hepatitis A it is also important to wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers. Finally, it is also important to use a condom during sexual intercourse to prevent the spread of hepatitis strains transmissible through sex.
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