KOCHI: World Hepatitis Day was observed on 28 July, to improve the public awareness about viral hepatitis and bring political attention to this major disease. Viral hepatitis is the eighth biggest killer disease in the world and because of this WHO has announced world hepatitis day as one among the four disease specific days to be celebrated. Hepatitis refers to a state of inflammation of the liver caused by many agents which include virus, alcohol, drugs and many infections. Viral hepatitis can infect anyone with a little unguarded exposure to infectious materials which leads to few severe cases of hepatitis.

It is estimated that more than 500 million people are affected worldwide and at least 1.5 million deaths occur each year because of this preventable as well as treatable disease. On research, it was found that not many people are aware of hepatitis and the various ways to prevent the spread of infection. It is therefore important for people to understand the various ways of preventing hepatitis and make it a social responsibility to make maximum number of people aware of the various modern medical tools available to diagnose and treat viral hepatitis
Types of Hepatitis

Many viruses can infect liver, the common types include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis A – Commonly known as HAV or Hepatitis A Virus, occurs commonly due to consumption of contaminated uncooked food or water. It is seen in areas of poor socio-economic status. Mostly the disease presents with self-limiting jaundice, but rarely it can lead to fatal hepatitis. Vaccination against hepatitis A helps to prevent the disease.

Hepatitis B – Approximately 2 per cent – 4 per cent of Indian population is affected with HBV. Hepatitis B is mostly transmitted through blood and other body fluids. HBV can occur in people using unsterilized needles for injection or while getting a body tattoo done and by sharing personal items like toothbrush or razors. It can also spread from an infected mother to baby during the time of delivery. Universal infant hepatitis B vaccination has resulted in substantial reduction in hepatitis B. This virus can cause cirrhosis of liver and liver cancer.

Hepatitis Delta – Commonly known as HDV or Hepatitis Delta Virus Infection is considered as the most severe viral hepatitis in human although it is seldom encountered. HDV occurs only to people already infected by HBV which occurs due to the contact with infected blood. HDV accelerates the rate of liver damage in HBV infected patients.

Hepatitis C – Also known as HCV affects 1.5 per cent of Indian population. Hepatitis C is a blood borne infection mostly transmitted by blood and blood products as well as needle sharing by intravenous drug use. Long term HCV infection can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis E -This is caused by hepatitis E virus and is transmitted by contaminated food and drinking water. Mostly it causes self-limiting illness but can lead to severe hepatitis if acquired during pregnancy.

Treatment and cure

Viral hepatitis is a preventable disease. Each one of us can get it, yet it rarely affects those to constantly guard against this. Hepatitis A and E are mostly self-limiting and can be easily cured with proper rest and abstaining from alcohol and taking medicine which would help you relieve the symptoms. Hepatitis B and C can produce long term serious consequences and hence one should seek proper medical attention. Currently many drugs are available for treating the illness. Across the globe millions of volunteers participate in World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness and focus global attention to this deadly disease. Let’s play our role and be a part of this campaign.