At Citron Hygiene, we believe in prioritising hygiene throughout organisations. We know that a lack of good hygiene practice can lead to serious illness and transmission of infectious, viruses and diseases, that is why we are supporting World Hepatitis Day, to help encourage the elimination of such viruses in order to help provide greater public safety and get rid of diseases from the planet.
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What is World Hepatitis Day?
In 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) made World Hepatitis Day one of only four official disease-specific world health days, to be celebrated each year on the 28th July. Millions of people across the world now take part in World Hepatitis Day. Its aim is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs, testing and government action.
The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a patient-led and patient driven non-governmental organization (NGO) comprised of 230 member organisations across 81 countries worldwide working in the viral hepatitis field.
WHA provides leadership on a global scale and provides support for action that immobilises the death toll and improves the quality of the lives of people living with and affected by chronic viral hepatitis. The WHA aim to work with members, governments and other key partners in order to eliminate these diseases from the planet by evoking awareness, providing prevention care, better support and access to treatment.
This year’s global campaign theme is FIND THE MISSING MILLIONS. According to World Hepatitis Day, there are millions of people that are living with hepatitis and unaware. Without the proper care, this could lead to more suffering and lives losts so action is needed to stop this from happening.
So what actually is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is the term used to describe liver inflammation and is usually the result of drinking alcohol or a viral infection. Some of these types can pass without any serious problems, whilst others can be chronic, causing scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), loss of liver function and in some cases, liver cancer.
Several different types of hepatitis exist, including:
- Hepatitis A – Caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the faeces of an infected person, only common in parts of the world where sanitation is poor. Symptoms include pain, nausea and itching. There is no specific treatment but vaccination is recommended if you are travelling to areas where the virus is common, such as the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Central and South America, the Far East and Eastern Europe.
- Hepatitis B – Spread in the blood of an infected person and can be spread by pregnant women to their babies or from child to child contact. In rarer cases it can be spread through unprotected sex and injecting drugs. Vaccination is recommended for high risk groups such as health care workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and people travelling to Southeast Asia and Sun-Saharan Africa.
- Hepatitis C – Spread by blood to blood contact with an infected person (most common form of Hepatitis in the UK). It is caused through sharing needles used to inject drugs. Many people are unaware that they are infected with hepatitis C because of only its flu-like symptoms. 1 in 4 people will fight off the infection, but for the others, effective antiviral medication must be used because there is currently no vaccination.
- Hepatitis D – Only affects people with hepatitis B, spread through blood to blood contact or sexual contact. Is more widespread in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America. There is no vaccination but protection can be increased with the Hepatitis B vaccine.
- Hepatitis E – The most common cause of acute hepatitis in the UK. Caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with faeces of an infected person (similar to hepatitis A), however hepatitis E is general a short term infection which doesn’t require treatment. More common in people with a suppressed immune system, such as those who may have an organ transplant.
- Alcoholic hepatitis – Caused by drinking alcohol excessively over a long period of time. This is most common in the UK. By stopping drinking alcohol you can recover, but continuous consumption can lead to the development of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
- Autoimmune hepatitis – A rarer form of hepatitis whereby the immune system attacks and damages the liver. The cause is not clear, but immune-suppressive medicines can be used to successfully reduce inflammation.
How do I know if I have hepatitis?
There are few noticeable symptom of acute hepatitis, so the virus may not be recognized. If symptoms do develop, they can include:
- Pain in muscles and joints
- A high temperature (38 degrees or above)
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting
- Feeling unusually fatigued constantly
- Generally feeling unwell
- Loss of appetite
- Dark coloured urine
- Pale, dark coloured faeces
- Itchy skin
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
How can Hepatitis be prevented?
The most effective form of prevention in contracting hepatitis is vaccination, beyond this, taking precautionary measures against the causes listed above and maintaining a good standard of sanitation can all contribute to effective prevention of hepatitis. This includes:
- Washing hands thoroughly
- Avoiding contact with blood
- Going to reputable shops for tattoos and piercings
- Ensuring that your food is clean
- Not having unprotected sex
Get Involved with World Hepatitis Day
Undiagnosed, hepatitis can be deadly. In order to prevent lives from being lost, we must raise awareness and ensure people are tested. To find out more about how to get involved with World Hepatits Day, visit the WHD website or to have your say on social media, use the hashtag ‘#findthemissingmillions’ on Twitter.