BHUBANESWAR: AS Hepatitis assumes alarming proportions across the State during monsoon, health experts have warned people to be watchful of not just what they eat and drink, but also take sufficient care of liver.While Hepatitis A and E virus are transmitted through contaminated water and food, Hepatitis B and C are communicated through blood and body secretions. The initial symptoms of the infection resemble that of common flu.
Hepatitis A and E infection can be prevented by maintaining good hygiene and sanitation besides ensuring consumption of safe drinking water. However, the most common is Hepatitis A, a high risk infection during the season.
Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Sushant Sethi said, sometimes people mistake jaundice to be hepatitis but that is just manifestation of the disease. Swollen liver is a pre-symptom of the disease. Hepatitis E and A are avoidable with precaution, he said.Apart from emphasising on food and drinking water, people should remain alert while sourcing blood from blood banks. Family members of patients should check whether the blood has undergone tests for infections such as hepatitis and HIV.
“People requiring frequent blood transfusions need to check with blood banks whether it has undergone new-generation tests, including fourth-generation ELISA and other antibody tests. Nucleic acid test (NAT) helps prevent transfusion transmitted infections. Hepatitis B, C and HIV are most common infections that can be contracted via infected blood,” he warned.
Hepatitis C is dangerous as once the virus enters liver it will cause long-term damage and will not show symptoms till the liver is damaged. About 80 per cent may not exhibit any symptom for years and 50-70 per cent of adults who get this infection, will get chronic Hepatitis C, which occurs over a long period.
Lack of awareness also plays spoilsport as many are unaware about Hepatitis B virus which is transmitted through blood and other body fluids, much like HIV. While the B virus (along with the A virus) has a vaccine, the C virus still doesn’t have vaccine.
Dr Sethi advised people to demand screened blood. “They have right to see proof of necessary tests done. Hepatitis C has inexpensive cure now-a-days. The result can be 100 per cent if the virus is caught early and has not damaged the liver,” he added.