Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and is usually caused by a viral infection. There are five main types of Hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These types are of greatest concern owing to the potential for outbreaks and epidemics, and the widespread illness and death that they can cause. Hepatitis types A and B lead to chronic disease and are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Hepatitis A and E are usually caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water. These types are closely linked to a lack of safe water and poor sanitation and hygiene. Most patients make a full recovery and experience no long-term effects.
Hepatitis B is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) caused by contact with infected blood, semen and other bodily fluids. Hepatitis B causes swelling of the liver and, if the damage is serious enough, it can lead to cancer.
Hepatitis B, C and D typically arise as a result of contact with infected body fluids.
Common modes of transmission include contact with contaminated blood or equipment, sexual contact and mother to child transmission during birth.
Only a person who already has the Hepatitis B virus can be infected with Hepatitis D.
Ways To Prevent Hepatitis Infection
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom
- Drink boiled or commercially bottled water if you are unsure of local sanitation
- Practise safe sex
- Only use clean, sterile syringes and needles
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal items
Tip of the Month
- The 28th of July is World Hepatitis Day.
- Hepatitis B is an important occupational hazard for health workers and people working in the waste management industry.
- Make sure that your staff members are informed about the risks associated with Hepatitis and that they take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the virus.
- Maintain a high level of hygiene in the workplace and establish proper disposal systems to eliminate sanitary waste.
- Enquire about the availability of Hepatitis vaccines.