Viral hepatitis is rapidly becoming a major public health issue globally especially in Africa. It is a neglected silent killer disease in Africa due to inadequate screening and access to its treatment in the continent. It is a liver disease that is caused by hepatitis virus.
Symptoms of viral hepatitis include; Jaundice (yellowing of eyes), vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stool and slight or gross abdominal distention.
Viral hepatitis can only be diagnosed and differentiated through laboratory testing. Early diagnosis plays important role in treatment outcome.
There are five distinct types of viral hepatitis, namely; Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E of which chronic hepatitis B and C cause 95% of hepatitis-related sickness and untimely deaths.
Hepatitis A is highly infectious and spread through faecal-oral route, that is, the virus is present in faeces of infected person and non-infected individual can contract it by eating or drinking a contaminated substance.
Therefore, the infection is favoured by overcrowding and poor sanitation. As a result, It commonly affects children and young adults. It is less deadly with most patients making a complete recovery within little medical care.
Vaccination against Hepatitis A is usually recommended for high risk individuals, HIV/AIDS patients, Hepatitis B and C patients.
Hepatitis B is also highly infectious and it is about 10 times more infectious than C which in turn is about 10 times more infectious than HIV.
Imagine than! It can be transmitted through blood and body fluid which include mother to child (most common), reuse of contaminated needles and syringe, sexual intercourse, kissing, hugging and other causal contacts. If not properly managed, complications of chronic hepatitis B infection include liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and liver failure.
Vaccination against Hepatitis B is recommended for every individual who was not vaccinated at childhood. It is capable of producing active immunization in 95% of individuals.
Vaccination within 24 hours of exposure to infected blood or body fluid can also prevent or minimize infection.
Kindly visit nearby healthcare center for your vaccination today.
Hepatitis C is similar to hepatitis B but it is only transmitted through blood. Therefore cannot be spread through breast milk, food, water or causal contact.
Hepatitis C vaccine is not yet available.
Hepatitis B and C are chronic viral hepatitis and affects 325 million people globally and 70 million Africans.
About 90% of people living with hepatitis B and C in Africa lack needed care.
The disease therefore often progresses to advanced liver disease with associated financial burden, emotional distress and stigmatization resulting in about 200,000 deaths yearly in Africa. Usually among youths and young adults.
Hepatitis D is rare and occurs only in association with hepatitis B and can be prevented by proper management of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E is similar to hepatitis A but contact with animals e.g dogs, pigs, and rodents are also possible route of transmission together with contaminated water and food. It has higher fatality rate in pregnant women.
Hepatitis infection is deadly and highly infectious. There is need to increase awareness of viral hepatitis in Africa considering its huge burden and inadequate screening and access to treatment.
It is duty bound on every African to be vaccinated against hepatitis B and prevent all other types of hepatitis.
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