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Common Liver Diseases : Viral Hepatitis
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What is viral hepatitis?
Viral Hepatitis is an inflammation of the iver caused by a virus infection. This results in liver cell damage and destruction.
Five main types of viruses causing Hepatitis have
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E - These types of
hepatitis are usually spread by fecal-oral contact which implies
that contaminated drinking water is the main source of these infections.
The various modes of spread can be:
Hepatitis B and C
- Touching an infected person's stool
- Consuming food made by someone who touched infected stool
- Drinking water made dirty by infected stool
- Having anal sexual intercourse with an infected person
Hepatitis B virus infection is totally preventable as a safe and highly effective vaccine is easily available
- There are 400 million carriers of Hepatitis B in the world
- 45 million of these are present in India. In other words, 1 in every 20 Indians is a Hepatitis B carrier
- Of these, 4 million persons carry highly infectious virus in their blood
Both Hepatitis B and C spread mainly through:
- 1-2 % of Indian population suffers from Hepatitis C - About 20 million infected
- Once acquired, there is 80% chance of developing chronic disease
- Unlike Hepatitis B, no effective vaccine is available for its prevention.
Hepatitis D - This form occurs together with Hepatitis B, making the Hepatitis B infection worse.
- Contaminated blood and blood products
- Sexual contact: especially with multiple partners. Although Hepatitis B can be transmitted between husband and wife, risk of transmission of Hepatitis C is very low in monogamous relationships.
- In addition, people with alcoholic liver disease may also contract Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis viruses A and E cause only Acute Hepatitis.
On the other hand, Hepatitis viruses B (with or without
D) and C in addition to acute hepatitis, can result in chronic hepatitis,
cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.