World Hepatitis Day is recognized annually on July 28th, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011). Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first hepatitis B vaccine and for these achievements won the Nobel Prize.
Viral hepatitis is caused by infection of one of five viruses – hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. All hepatitis viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, and chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to the World Health Organization, viral hepatitis is a major global health threat with around 257 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and 71 million people living with chronic hepatitis C.
Viral Hepatitis: A Global Perspective
Worldwide, viral hepatitis is among the top 10 infectious disease killers with more than one million people dying each year from chronic viral hepatitis. These deaths are primarily from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In fact, chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C cause approximately 60% of liver cancer cases.
Many of those who are chronically infected are unaware of their infection. People can live with chronic viral hepatitis for decades before having symptoms or feeling sick. So even though a person has no symptoms and may appear healthy, damage to their liver can still be occurring.
The good news is hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be prevented with safe, effective vaccine. Over the last several decades in the U.S., there has been more than a 90% decrease in hepatitis A cases, and many experts believe this decline is due to vaccination of children and people at risk for hepatitis A. However, isolated outbreaks of hepatitis A still occur in the U.S., in part because many adults have never received the vaccine. In many parts of the world, widespread infant vaccination programs have led to a decrease in new cases of hepatitis B. There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, but research is ongoing.
“Under the direction of the patient’s primary care physician, our team at Palmeira treats patients with hepatitis.” shared Lynda Ferri, RN, Clinical Manager.
Treatments for hepatitis B are available that can delay or even prevent liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Treatments are available for hepatitis C that can cure the disease. In fact, over 95% of people with hepatitis C can be completely cured within 2-3 months.
Hepatitis Risk Assessment
To take the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Viral Hepatitis Risk Assessment please go to: https://www2a.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/start.html
For more information check out the CDC fact sheet on Hepatitis A, B and C http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm .
Follow CDC Viral Hepatitis on Twitter @CDChep for information on all types of viral hepatitis. Join the conversation and help us spread the word by using the #WorldHepDay, #EliminateHepatitis, and #NOhep.