Hepatitis is a public health concern

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

In the United States, three types of hepatitis are most common - Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Each of the three types is caused by a different virus. Although each has similar symptoms, they are spread differently and can have different effects. Hepatitis A is an acute or short - term infection that usually goes away on its own. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in many people, the virus stays in the body. Often, people who are infected with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C have chronic (long - term) disease and can develop serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.

Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with a vaccine. Hepatitis C is not vaccine - preventable, though people who are infected with Hepatitis C can sometimes be cured with a long course of antiviral medication. If a person is infected with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, it may be necessary for them to take medication for their entire lifetime to keep the disease in check and prevent liver cancer.

Hepatitis A is usually spread when you are exposed to the Hepatitis A virus via contaminated food or drinks, or when objects contaminated with the virus are put in the mouth. Poor handwashing and hygiene can spread the virus from one person who is infected to someone else.

Hepatitis B is usually spread when blood, semen or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact with an infected person or sharing needles, syringes or other drug - injection equipment. Hepatitis B also can be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth.

A vaccine for Hepatitis B has been around since 1986, and Hepatitis A vaccine was licensed in 1995. Both have been required for school - aged children in Nevada since 2002. Both vaccines are safe and effective, but many people who are at risk for Hepatitis remain unvaccinated. If you are an adult who has not previously been infected with Hepatitis A and/or Hepatitis B, you should consider getting the vaccine. Some uninsured or under - insured clients who meet certain criteria may even qualify for free Hepatitis A and B vaccine at our Long Street clinic.

Remember, now through Oct. 28, you can bring in two cans of food to the Health Department to receive a voucher for a free flu vaccine that can be redeemed on Thursdays through 2011 in our clinic.

For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.


Carson City Health and Human Services

900 East Long St., Carson City


Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and Friday; call for appointment.

Well Child visits: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays.

Men's Clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays; call for appointment.

Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays; no appointment needed.


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