July 28 is celebrated as World Hepatitis day. As we all know, Hepatitis is one of the most prevailing diseases in Pakistan and several researches are going for the betterment of Hepatitis B and C patients. National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS) Pakistan is actively playing its role and published 3000 booklets on Hepatitis B and C for public awareness and distributed for free and also give the link of booklet available on NAYS website. Here is the article for today’s World day observance:
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the virus and causes minor illness and in some cases severe symptoms are also developed. Each year about 1.4 million people are affected by this disease. The virus is transmitted by the ingestion of unhealthy food and unhygienic conditions. Mainly poor sanitation of the water is the main cause of spread of this disease. Hepatitis A is an acute condition of liver and it is not a chronic condition like that of Hepatitis B and C. The epidemic in Shanghai affected more than 0.3 million people.
Geographical Hot Spots
The disease is more prevalent in the developing countries due to lack of hygienic conditions. More than 90% of the children below the age of 10 years are affected. The adults are less vulnerable due to the increase in immunity.
The hepatitis A is mainly transmitted by the fecal contact of the affected person to the food of the healthy person. House flies are reported to pass the enteroviruses especially the Hepatitis A and E virus. If contaminated water is consumed then there are 100% chances of the disease development.
The incubation period has been reported to vary from 14 to 28 days. Symptoms include the low grade and high grade fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal problems, dark colored urine, yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice). These symptoms vary from person to person. The adults show more severe symptoms as compared to the children.
There is no specific treatment for this disease. The recovery period is from several weeks to months. Therapy includes the healthy nutritional diet as well as fresh juices to help the liver in healing up.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection of liver that is able to induce both the acute as well as the chronic symptoms. It is transmitted by blood contact of the unhealthy person. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 0.6 million people round the globe die every year due to the severity of this disease. This disease in reported to be several times and in some cases 100 times more infectious as compared to that of the HIV. It is an important hazard for the health workers. The vaccine of HBV (95% effective) is available in the market, so it is also preventable like that of HAV. It can also induce the chronic condition of liver and in severe cases, results in the liver cancer.
Geographical Hot Spots
Hepatitis B is reported to have high rate in China and Asia. The chronic infections are also highly reported from the Amazon and some parts of Europe. The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent has the rate of more than 5% chronically infected individuals. The Western Europe and American region has a low rate of 1%.
HBV is transmitted by blood transfusions or genital fluid exchange. It is 50-100 times more infectious as compared to AIDS. Unlike the HIV, the survival rate of the HCV outside the host body is more. It can survive up to 7 days. Perinatal transmissions, Injections, Blood Transfusions and unprotected intercourse are some modes of transmission of HBV. The HBV is not spread by contaminated food or unhealthy fluids. The incubation period of this virus is from 1-6 months.
The symptoms are not visible at the acute stage of infection. Some people develop initial symptoms as muscle fatigue, dark urine, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains and jaundice. This can last several weeks to months. The chronic infection results in cirrhosis of liver or the liver cancer. The adults as well as the infants are equally vulnerable to this disease.
There is no specific treatment for the acute Hepatitis B. Nutritional balance maintenance and fluid replacement is the only way to survival of patient. The chronic conditions are treated by interferon and antiviral agents. But this treatment is not available in the developing countries.
It is also a liver disease which is caused by Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). This disease can range in severity from mild illness to serious state, i.e., liver cancer. It spreads by the blood contact and annually about 150 million people are chronically affected by this disease. 0.35 Million people around the world die every year due to HCV chronic infection.
Geographical Hot Spots
It is a cosmopolitan disease and highest chronic infection rate is in Egypt (22%). Pakistan (4.8%) and China (3.2%) are on second and third number, respectively. Mostly the infection spread due to the unsafe injections and contaminated surgical equipment.
It spreads by the infectious blood. The blood products, organ transplants, contaminated syringes, drugs addiction, prenatal transfusions and unsafe sex are some of the important reasons of the spread.
The incubation period lasts for 2 to 24 weeks. The symptoms are fatigue, fever, decreased appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, grey-colored faeces, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes). It is interesting to know that about 80% of the people do not develop symptoms. About 20% of the individuals develop the liver cancer.
There is no treatment of HCV. There are almost 6 genotypes of hepatitis C and they may respond differently to a specific set of treatment. Careful screening is must to confirm the right diagnosis.
On this day, National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS) and Pakistan Science Foundation feel their responsibility to spread awareness among the population. You all are humbly requested to join hands with us in this noble cause.