World Hepatitis Day is recognized on July 28 each year to raise awareness of the impact Hepatitis has on a global scale and the preventability of the disease. According to the World Health Organization, viral Hepatitis affects 400 million people worldwide.
There are three common types of Hepatitis: A, B and C. All three types cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C may lead to chronic liver disease while Hepatitis A causes a limited illness but doesn’t lead to chronic problems.
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus spread through contaminated food and water or by contact with an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread through blood and bodily fluids of infected people. Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C which is spread through infected blood.
“Hepatitis A prevention is as simple as being aware of safe food and water,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases said. “Most cases of Hepatitis B and C infections occur because of lifestyle choices that may not be healthy.”
Some people may not be aware they are infected. Hepatitis symptoms may mimic the flu at the onset with fatigue, fever, vomiting and joint pain. Dark urine, light-colored stools and jaundice can also be symptoms of Hepatitis. Viral Hepatitis is diagnosed with a blood test.