The ABC’s of Hepatitis

The ABC’s of Hepatitis

  • hepatitis prevention

Hepatitis is a virus. I will speak specifically about Hepatitis A, B, and C. The symptoms can include abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, joint pain, jaundice, and gray-colored stools.

Hepatitis A

Approximately 2,500 new cases in the US each year.

Main Source: Ingestion of fecal matter from contaminated food/drinks or close contact with an infected person.

Risk Factors: Traveling to a region with an intermediate or high rate of Hepatitis A; exposure to an infected person; Sex with an infected person; Hepatitis A can also be acquired from eating contaminated vegetables/food in the US. Always thoroughly wash produce and wash hands prior to eating.

No risk for chronic infection and most people recover without complications.

A vaccine is available and recommended for travelers to an area with hepatitis A, anyone that is immune-compromised, has another chronic liver disease, all children at age 1, men who have sex with men, or anyone who is seeking long-term protection.

Hepatitis B

Approximately 20,000 new cases in the US each year.

Main Source: Contact with infectious blood, semen, or bodily fluids.

Risk Factors: IV drug users and those having unprotected sex with an infected partner. Can be passed from mom to baby.

Higher risk for chronic infection in infants and children. Only 6-10% risk of adolescents and adults develop chronic infection.

15-25% of chronically infected Hepatitis B develop chronic liver disease. Most people with acute disease recover completely, however.

The vaccine is available and recommended for anyone seeking long-term protection, healthcare workers, those who are immune-compromised, IV drug users, children not previously vaccinated, and those who engage in risky sexual behavior. (This is not a comprehensive list)

Hepatitis C

Approximately 30,000 new cases in the US per year.

Main Source: Contact with blood from an infected person most commonly via shared needles, syringes or other injection equipment. Less commonly through sexual contact or from mom to baby.

Risk Factors: Current or former IV drug user; blood transfusion before 1992, Long-term dialysis patients; and anyone born between 1945-1965 should be tested 20-30% of newly infected people develop the acute disease. 75-85% of newly infected people develop chronic disease.

There is no vaccine available.


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