World Hepatitis Day July 28, Get Tested
"Hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can also cause hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A can be spread when an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food or a caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person. Hepatitis A also can be spread through contaminated food or water. The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. When first infected, a person can develop an “acute” infection, which can range in severity from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Hepatitis B is usually spread when blood or other body fluids from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enter the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact with an infected person or sharing needles, syringes, or other injection drug equipment. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. When first infected, a person can develop an “acute” infection, which can range in severity from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with Hepatitis C by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Many people with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. Even though a person has no symptoms, the virus can still be detected in the blood.
Testing for Hepatitis C is recommended for certain groups, including people who have a history of injecting drugs, have HIV infection, have abnormal liver tests or liver disease, received donated blood or organs before 1992, have been exposed to blood on the job through a needle stick or injury with a sharp object, or are on hem dialysis.
Vaccination for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B is recommended for children and adults. Testing for Hepatitis C is recommended for anyone with risk factors.
July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. Be Aware. Be Informed. Be Vaccinated! Get tested!
Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey County Health Departments can provide you and your family Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations. On July 28th we will offer Hepatitis C testing for individuals at risk. For more information please contact:
Avery County Health Department at (828) 733-6031
Mitchell County Health Department at (828) 688-2371
Yancey County Health Department at (828) 682-6118