29 July 2020
Screening and early detection are the only ways to tackle hepatitis the silent killer, since liver damage in chronic viral hepatitis progresses without symptoms till it reaches the terminal illness stage, as either liver cancer or liver cirrhosis. Vaccination is, however, available for Hepatitis A and B viruses.
Commemorating the World Hepatitis Day, Dr. Arvind Sahni, Director Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said, we should avoid unhygienic body tattooing, body piercing to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C as proper safety measures are not in place always.
Dr Sahni, in an advisory said, “Safe blood and blood products are paramount to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C. We must try for 1OO% voluntary blood donations and no commercial blood donors must be allowed. Each blood unit must be tested for Hepatitis B and C we must use reusable preventable syringes and practice safe injection practices.”
Viral hepatitis is a global health problem it poses a significant health burden in India. It causes acute liver failure, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. The viruses include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E, said the doctor.
Hepatitis A and E are transmitted by contaminated water and food, Hepatitis B and C are blood borne viruses which are spread via contaminated blood, blood products, contaminated needles syringes etc, he said.
Hepatitis A and E do not cause permanent liver damage in the form of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, which can be caused by Hepatitis B and C. lndia has approximately 40 million cases of hepatitis B and 6-12 million cases of hepatitis C.
Dr. Sahni said, “The exact prevalence of Hepatitis A and E is difficult to estimate. The case fatality rate of hepatitis A is age related with an approximately death rate of 0.3% which increases almost 5 times beyond the age of 50 years. Hepatitis E has a very high mortality in pregnancy which is 15-25%. “
He added., General awareness about sanitation, boiling of water, avoidance of eating cut and open food items, elimination of open defecation and managing municipal solid waste via modern techniques are some of the measures to help and control the spread of hepatitis A and E.
Immunisation against Hepatitis B for all pregnant females, all new-born babies, all health care workers and various high-risk populations like dialysis patients, prison inmates, promiscuous adults must be done. Three doses of hepatitis B vaccine are needed. WHO recommends universal vaccination with no age exemption for Hepatitis B vaccine. There is no vaccine against Hepatitis C. Hepatitis A can be prevented by 2 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine.