World Hepatitis Day
Viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B,
and hepatitis C, are distinct diseases that affect
the liver and have different hepatitis symptoms and
treatments. Other causes of hepatitis include
recreational drugs and prescription medications.
Hepatitis type is determined by laboratory tests.
Every one of the hepatitis viruses can cause acute
(short-term) infection. In addition to short-term
infection, the hepatitis B, C and D viruses can also
cause the long-term infection of chronic hepatitis.
It can lead to life-threatening complications such
as liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and
Hepatitis: prevention, diagnosis and treatment
Hepatitis is a viral infection that attacks the
liver. The virus is transmitted through contact with
the blood or other body fluids of an infected
person. Type B can cause both acute and chronic
disease. Routine immunization of newborn babies and
children with hepatitis B vaccine is the best
measure to take. Most countries in the European
Region have introduced such immunization, which will
ultimately lead to generations free of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can cause both acute and chronic
infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness
lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood,
and people typically become infected due to unsafe
injection practices, inadequate sterilization of
medical equipment in some health-care settings, and
unscreened blood and blood products.
WHO/Europe’s efforts for the prevention and
treatment of hepatitis focus on types B and C. These
are the most prevalent types in the WHO European
Region, where 13.3 million people are estimated to
live with hepatitis B, and 15 million with hepatitis
C. Of those infected, over 120 000 die every year.
Two thirds of the people in the Region with
hepatitis B and C live in eastern Europe and central
No vaccine is available against hepatitis C, so the
disease must be tackled by improving prevention,
diagnosis and treatment. Understanding the disease
and following safe injecting practices are the best
means of prevention. A new and effective treatment
against hepatitis C is now available, to which all
people in need should have access.
One thing people can do for liver health is reduce
the amount of stress in their live by eating
healthy, exercising regularly and reducing the
intake of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Understanding Hepatitis -- Symptoms
Many people with hepatitis go undiagnosed, because
the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there
are no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of
•Loss of appetite
•Muscle or joint aches
•Nausea and vomiting
Less common symptoms include:
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the
Altered mental state, stupor, or coma
See Your Doctor About Hepatitis If:
Your flu-like symptoms persist or you notice any of
the symptoms or signs of hepatitis; chronic
hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and
A friend or family member comes down with hepatitis;
you may be at risk for infection with the organism
that causes the disease.
Your symptoms follow a visit to a country where
hepatitis is common; you may have contracted the
disease during your travels.