Health-Talk - "Hepatitis" - What you need to know to prevent The Silent Killer Virus, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E

Health-Talk - What you need to know to prevent Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E - The Silent Killer Virus

Only a hand full of people know much about this silent killer disease called Hepatitis. The Layman on the street thinks it doesn't exist, some think it's a joke and believe it would never happen to them, while others say it's a disease for the 'Big Man'. The sad thing here is that it's not what they think, it is real and can happen to anyone. You might have it right now and you wouldn't know, everyone is susceptible to the disease, except you've been diagnosed and treated of the disease before, then you can never get affected by it again because your immune system and body metabolism would adjust and become familiar with the organism. I wish you'd never get it at all my friend!
The first understanding of the Hepatitis Virus came in 1963 by Dr. Baruch Blumberg when he discovered an 'antigen' (An antigen is any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. This means your immune system does not recognise the substance, and is trying to fight it off. An antigen may be a substance from the environment, such as chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or pollen.) that detected the presence of Hepatitis B in a blood sample of an Australian Aborigine. At that time, he was actually researching the genetics of disease susceptibility after blood transfusion in humans. He wanted to know if inherited traits from donors could make different groups of people (recipients) more or less susceptible to the same disease, so he and his team travelled round the world collecting blood samples for analysis when they finally found this killer antigen. 
In 1969, Dr. Blumberg and his colleague, Dr. Iriving Millman, invented the Hepatitis B vaccine and it was administered to millions of people, particularly in Asia and Africa, thus saving many, many lives.

Hepatitis Overview, Questions and Answers

Question: What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic  substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and
autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and together are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of  contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receiving of  contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.
Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine,
extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal  pain.

Question: What are the different hepatitis viruses?

Scientists have identified 5 unique hepatitis viruses, identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways. 
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food.
Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening. Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV. In the early 1970's, the cause of infectious hepatitis was found and named the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). 

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through
exposure to infected blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection during drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV. In 1989
hepatitis C virus was isolated, although there is no vaccine, but in 80% cases, carriers who complete a treatment course can be cured. 

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those  who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV  and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognised as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.  In1990 hepatitis E virus was identified, while in 1995 hepatitis G virus HGV which is not unique was also identified. 

13 out of every 100 have hepatitis which is 14.7% of Nigerian population (23 million). Most people don't know they have this disease until they are met with an opportunity to donate blood to a patient or struck by it, that's when they'd realise they have the silent killer. It has little or no symptoms until it starts to affect the internal systems and break them down.

Awareness campaigns about the disease should be carried out in schools and various social institutions to reduce its effect and kick it out from Africa. The vaccines should be made available in all medical institution. More doctors should be trained and fully equipped fore-hand as well to curb the killer virus disease. We shouldn't wait until it has eaten too deep into our population and cause a major scare like the Ebola epidemic before we equip our medical team or act imminently. The best prevention is immunisation, get the vaccine for hepititis. Rush to a Healthcare unit and carry out a test to know if you've got it, you'd be given a vaccine for cure. If you don't have the virus, you'd be given immunisation and be protected against any future occurence.  Let's stop Hepatitis from dabbing and dancing shoki or Azonto in our bodies and continent. Kick out Hepatitis!


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