Hepatitis

 

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What is viral Hepatitis?  Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver.  Hepatitis is often caused by a virus.  Many people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur with an acute infection, they can appear anytime from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure. Symptoms of chronic viral hepatitis can take decades to develop. 

Symptoms of hepatitis can include:  fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

There are 5 types of Hepatitis virus.  Three strains are most prevalent in the USA

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Hepatitis A:

This virus is spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the stool of an infected person. People at highest risk are: 

  • Travel outside the country or areas of the USA where Hepatitis A is endemic
  • Men who have sexual encounters with other men
  • Recreational drug users
  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People who are contacts of infected individuals
  • People who are experiencing homelessness
  • People who are incarcerated

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Hepatitis B:

This virus is primarily spread through blood and body fluids of an infected person.  The Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted:

  • Birth to an infected mother
  • Sex with an infected person
  • Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles, syringes, and even medical equipment, such as glucose monitors
  • Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors
  • Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities

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Hepatitis C: 

The virus is spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. 

The Hepatitis C virus can also be transmitted from:

  • Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles and syringes
  • Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 (when widespread screening virtually eliminated hepatitis C from the blood supply)
  • Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities
  • Birth to an infected mother

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Vaccine:

Vaccine is available for prevention of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A.  Contact the MCDBOH for vaccine 330-270-2855 x 132

 

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