Tuesday marks World Hepatitis Day – Prevent hepatitis. Act now

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day to be observed globally on Tuesday, July 28, Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, would like to share the following information with the community.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver commonly caused by the hepatitis virus.  The theme is “Prevent hepatitis. Act now.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are urging policy-makers, health workers and the public to act now to prevent infection and death from hepatitis.

There are five types of hepatitis viruses.  Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.5 million people every year, mostly from hepatitis B and C.

These infections can be prevented, but most people don’t know how.

In May 2014, World Health Assembly delegates from 194 governments adopted a resolution to promote global action to prevent, diagnose, and treat viral hepatitis.

On World Hepatitis Day, events will take place around the world focusing on preventing hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The date of 28 July was chosen for World Hepatitis Day in honour of the birthday of Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus and developer of the first hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis may present as acute or chronic infection.  An acute infection may be present without symptoms or with limited symptoms.  Typical symptoms are jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Chronic infection may lead to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. Hepatitis B and C viruses are the main cause of chronic hepatitis in millions of people.

Viruses A and A and E are transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water; through lack of basic hygiene, such as hand washing before eating or after using the restroom. Hepatitis E can also be transmitted through contaminated blood

Viruses B, C, and D are transmitted through contact with infected blood or sexual contact without protection, including oral one. By receipt of contaminated blood through transfusions, organs transplants, invasive procedures (ex. injection or tattoo with reused needle) and mother to newborn transmission.

Preventive measures change depending on the type of

hepatitis virus and the routes of transmission. However,

an easy way to prevent infection is using basic hygiene rules and safe sex, avoid contact with infected blood and ingestion of contaminated food and water; as well as through vaccination (hepatitis A and B).

For more information, contact the Ministry of Public Health, Vineyard Office Park in Philipsburg at W.G. Buncamper Road #33 or call 542-2078 or 542-3003.