Hepatitis B and C cause the most fatal infections
New Delhi, December 9, 2017: About 1.5 lakh people die of hepatitis every year in India, as per reports and this condition affects 60 million people in the country. Viral hepatitis infection is also the leading cause of liver cancer and liver failure. Despite these alarming facts, only few people are aware of this condition that infects and kills more people in India than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. There are five viral hepatitis strains of which hepatitis B and C cause the most fatal infections.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver cells and damage to the liver. There are different types and causes, but the symptoms can be similar. The liver helps in detoxifying blood, storing vitamins, and producing hormones. Hepatitis can disrupt these processes and create severe health problems throughout the body.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “It is imperative to not underestimate the threat of hepatitis. More than 80% cases of liver cancer are due to viral hepatitis. Many people are not aware even when they are infected as majority of people doesn’t even know they are infected because symptoms of jaundice such as yellowing of skin, whites of the eye, and urine happen in the later stages of the disease. Both the fatal infections (Hepatitis B and C) spread through contaminated blood and other fluids, with unsafe blood transfusion, tattoos or dental procedures using unsterilized tools, unprotected sex, sharing razor, etc. This further leads to the infection spreading from an infected person to a healthy person. Progression of liver disease is faster in individuals with HIV and viral hepatitis coinfection; also, they may not respond as well to treatment.”
The signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly and include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “The WHO has recognized viral hepatitis as a serious public health problem. There is a need for urgent and immediate action against this deadly condition as also raising awareness about its symptoms. It is also important to complete the vaccine regimen failing which the complications can exacerbate.”
The following precautions can help in preventing the risk of infection.
- Unnecessary and unsafe injections
- Unsafe blood products
- Unsafe waste collection and disposal
- Use of illicit drugs and sharing of injection equipment
- Unprotected sex with hepatitis C-infected people
- Sharing of sharp-edged personal items like razors that may be contaminated with infected blood
- Tattoos, piercing and acupuncture performed with contaminated equipment