Hepatitis is a very serious condition, which may lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure as well as liver cancer.

VIRAL hepatitis puts a tremendous burden on society. Chronic viral hepatitis, which can cause liver cirrhosis and /or liveviral hepatitisr cancer, is fatal. Apart from the medical consequences, this also puts a huge economic burden by repeated hospitalisations and costly medical treatment. Acute viral hepatitis, apart from causing sporadic cases of jaundice, can cause epidemics affecting thousands of people. Rarely, a patient of acute viral hepatitis may die of liver failure.

Types of Virus: There are various types of viruses that cause hepatitis. These viruses are as follows Virus A, B, C, D & E. All these dangerous viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, which is medically called viral hepatitis.

The symptoms can include— loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, jaundice, joint and muscle pain, and weight loss are the major symptoms.

All these viruses can cause acute viral hepatitis. If the liver inflammation persists beyond six months, it is labelled as chronic hepatitis. Maximum mortality is caused by chronic hepatitis, which is a serious condition and which, over the decades, may lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer, thereby causing death.

Disease burden: According to WHO, globally every third person has evidence of viral hepatitis. There are over 500 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and C, out of which India has 33 million chronic hepatitis B cases and 13 million chronic hepatitis C patients. The Asia-Pacific region carries an estimated 75 percent of the total global burden of chronic hepatitis B. Annually 1.4 million deaths occur globally.

Global mortality of hepatitis E is over 300,000 annually. Globally, there are an estimated 1.5 million hepatitis infection cases annually.

Water-borne and blood-borne viruses
Hepatitis A and E are waterborne and are frequently seen in poor sanitary conditions. These are spread mostly by drinking faecal contaminated water and/ or food. These are the most common causes of acute viral hepatitis in the Asia-Pacific region and may also cause epidemics when thousands of people are affected by the outbreak of jaundice.

These do not cause chronic hepatitis. Most of the mortality caused by hepatitis A is due to the rare event of acute liver failure, which may be seen in one in 1,000 children, and up to two per 100 adults.

Both these viruses have a devastating effect if a person has pre-existing liver disease, a condition called acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), which has a high morbidity and mortality.
Hepatitis B, C and D are blood borne and are spread by transfusion of infected blood, infected needles and /or syringes, infected haemodialysis equipment, sharing of infected needle and/ or syringe among intra-venous drug users (IVDU), occupational hazards by needle-prick injury, promiscuous sexual behaviour etc.

These modes of transmission are called horizontal transmission. Particularly in hepatitis B infection, mother passes on the infection to the new born. This is called vertical transmission and a common mode of infection in Asian countries. Delta virus is a defective virus, which can only infect people who are already infected with hepatitis B.

In the Next article of Medical Health care we will post Various Health tips on Prevention of Water Borne Viruses and The Diagnosis of Hepatitis Viral Infection. So we with us on Health care Education.
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