Hepatitis: The virus you should know about

24 Jul 2018


World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on 28 July, with the aim of bringing the world together under one single theme in order to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and the impact it has worldwide. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2018 is “Find the missing millions”.Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver due to a viral infection which may be Hepatitis A, B, C, E majorly. There are more viruses that can cause liver disease but these are uncommon. Each type of viral hepatitis has different routes of transmission:

  • Hepatitis A
          Hepatitis A is a food and waterborne illness that causes inflammation of the liver.

  • Hepatitis B
          Hepatitis B causes are due to blood and body fluid transmission from an infected person that infects the liver and causes inflammation.

  • Hepatitis C
          This virus is much like Hepatitis B, it spreads through blood or bodily fluids of an infected person to another.

  •  Hepatitis E
           Hepatitis E is a food and waterborne illness

Sometimes there are no symptoms present alerting you that you are ill.  Other times it may be flu-like symptoms which include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in your belly
 
Hepatitis B and C viruses are the leading cause of liver cancer in the world, and it is estimated that two out of three people having liver cancer (Hepatocellular carcinoma) is secondary to these viruses, yet more than 80% of those affected with viral hepatitis are unaware of their virus-positive status this figure amounts to millions, as in "Finding the millions" .Liver damage caused by these viruses over the period of time causes chronic liver disease also called as cirrhosis of the liver or end-stage liver disease. 

Patients with cirrhosis of liver develop water in the abdomen (ascites), Jaundice, blood vomiting, confusion, and repeated infections for which the only treatment is a liver transplant. Hence, the prevention and early diagnosis are very crucial to decrease the disease burden and halt the progression where possible. We at Integrated liver care, Aster CMI hospital have been running essential liver check program for many years that covers the basic liver panel including viruses. This gives a brief idea of a person’s liver health and acts as screening for these viruses in the population as well. 

Vaccination plays a very important role in this, children should be vaccinated at birth and so should be the high-risk individuals. According to the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy, the goal is to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. There is very good antiviral treatment available for hepatitis B and C. Which doesn't only halt the progression of the disease but also to a large extent prevent liver cancer. For Hepatitis C there are no vaccines but the new oral treatment regimen (DAAs) work very good and it can be cured in the majority of the patients. Hepatitis B vaccine is easily available and easy to administer but the course must be followed diligently.

Hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent this viral infection. We are in exciting times where treatment and vaccines are available, but unfortunately, in India, the screening mechanism is still not very good. It is a need of the hour to do so with the help of government and private partnership and educate people better and bring awareness which is going to be the key in the elimination of virus related liver diseases. At Aster CMI hospital, we aim to provide the most comprehensive viral hepatitis treatment including hepatitis B & C treatment.