New Delhi, 28 July 2018: Recent estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) have indicated that less than 10% of those infected with viral hepatitis are aware of this potentially life-threatening condition. Such lack of awareness and treatment can cause progressive liver damage and life-threatening conditions such as fibrosis and liver cancer. This can further result in about 4.1 lakh deaths in the country every year.
Viral hepatitis remains a major public health challenge in India with intermediate to high endemicity of hepatitis B. The hepatitis B virus infection is a big cause of viral hepatitis and about 3% to 5% of the Indian population is a carrier of the infection. The most common route of transmission in India is from mother to child.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The HB virus is highly contagious via infected blood or other body fluids, and is mainly transmitted from mothers to their infants, or between children. There is no cure, but antiviral drugs have proven effective in coping with symptoms. The virus gets transmitted by percutaneous and mucosal exposures and HUMAN BITES. It can survive on counter tops for up to seven days and remain capable of causing infection. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted by fomites such as such as finger-stick devices used to obtain blood for glucose measurements, multi-dose medication vials, jet gun injectors, and endoscopes.”
Early symptoms of hepatitis B may be non-specific and include fever, a flu-like illness, and joint pains. Symptoms of acute hepatitis may include fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, jaundice, and pain in the upper right abdomen.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Acute hepatitis due to any virus is usually self-limiting and requires a good diet, bed rest and only symptomatic treatment. Urgent hospitalization may be required only in cases of acute liver failure in acute viral hepatitis. One may also need intensive treatment and liver transplant. Chronic hepatitis B and C can be treated with antiviral drugs both oral and injectable. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is curable now and HBV can be controlled with medication. The vaccine is available for hepatitis A virus and HBV only.”
Some tips from HCFI
• Maintain quality standards for public water supplies
• Establish proper disposal systems for human feces
• Maintain hygienic practices such as handwashing with safe water, particularly before handling food
• Avoid consumption of water and/or ice of unknown purity
• Get immunized at regular intervals as advised
• Safe blood transfusion
• Safe injection
• Test any donated blood for hepatitis B and C
• Indulge in safe sex and promote correct and consistent use of condoms