This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
July 28-Aug. 3 is Hepatitis Awareness Week. Hepatitis is an infection of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that turns nutrients into energy, filters the blood, and fights illness. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, how it works can be affected in a negative way. Hepatitis can result in both short-term and long-term liver disease and cancer.
Hepatitis A can occur when an unvaccinated person eats contaminated food or drinks contaminated water. Hepatitis B, C, and D can spread by contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis E is spread through contaminated water or undercooked pork, deer, or shellfish. Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common types in the United States.
Often, those with hepatitis do not have symptoms. Thus, a person may not know he or she has been infected. The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test. A hepatitis blood test is recommended for:
Baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965;
All pregnant women
Those who received a clotting factor concentrate before 1987;
Those who have had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992;
Have come into contact with blood on the job through a needle stick or injury with a sharp object;
Any man who has had sex with another man;
Any person born outside of the U.S. or if at least one of your parents was born outside of the U.S.; or
Individuals who have used injectable drugs even once in their lifetime.
There are ways to prevent hepatitis. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food. Get vaccinated. Vaccination can prevent both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, but there is no vaccine available for the other types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A and B vaccination is a routine part of childhood shots. Check to see if your child has all of his/her vaccines. Hepatitis vaccination is also recommended for:
Adults with diabetes;
Anyone diagnosed with a clotting factor disorder;
Those who live with someone who has hepatitis;
Those who have been told they have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), HIV or AIDS;
A person who injects drugs with a needle;
Anyone traveling to a country where the disease is common; or
During certain food based outbreaks of hepatitis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a quiz to help you decide if you need to get tested for hepatitis or receive a vaccination for Hepatitis A and/or B. This quiz is private. It does not ask for personal information that would identify who you are. It will take less than five minutes of your time. This quiz can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/index.htm
Hepatitis is a serious health matter. Be informed, get tested, and get vaccinated. For additional information about Health Department services, check out our website at Gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.