SETTLING THE NOISE ABOUT HEPATITIS B
I know you might be wondering, what again about hepatitis B? Everywhere you go they are talking about hepatitis B. It might interest you to know that for all the “noise” that is made, it's worth it because viral hepatitis B kills more than 1.5 million people worldwide each year and that it is as many people as HIV / AIDS. (WHA)
From the world health organization fact sheet on hepatitis B, I will highlight the following:
• Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
• The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
• More than 780 000 people die every year due to the consequences of hepatitis B.
• Hepatitis B is an important occupational hazard for health workers.
• Hepatitis B is preventable with the current available safe and effective vaccine.
So I ask, a disease of such high impact and mortality rate, what are we doing about it?
You should know that vaccine for hepatitis B has been available since the year 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing infection and its chronic consequences, and was the first vaccine against a major human cancer.
WHO IS AT RISK AND HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
Hepatitis B virus can cause an acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Hepatitis B prevalence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. Most people in these regions became infected with the hepatitis B virus during childhood and between 5-10% of the adult population is chronically infected.
For transmission, in highly endemic areas, HBV is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth, or from person to person in early childhood.
Perinatal or early childhood transmission may also account for more than one third of chronic infections in areas of low endemicity, although in those settings, sexual transmission and the use of contaminated needles, especially among injecting drug users, are the major routes of infection.
The hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. During this time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine. The hepatitis B virus is not spread by contaminated food or water, and can not be spread casually in the workplace.
The incubation period of the hepatitis B virus is 75 days on average, but can vary from 30 to 180 days. The virus may be detected 30 to 60 days after infection and persists for variable periods of time.
Most people do not experience any symptoms during the acute infection phase. However, some people have acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
In some people, the hepatitis B virus can also cause a chronic liver infection that can later develop into cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
More than 90% of healthy adults who are infected with the hepatitis B virus will recover and be completely rid of the virus within 6 months.
Prevention and Treatment
I would like very much like to talk about prevention before treatment. It is very preventable; avoiding sexual contact without protection and especially health workers who work with blood should also avoid handling blood samples unprotected.
Most importantly you have to get screened to determine whether you are free of the virus or not. Laboratory diagnosis of hepatitis B focuses on the detection of the hepatitis B surface antigen HBsAg.
HEALTH FOR ALL HERBAL CLINIC
For this reason, several health centers around the world most importantly herbal or traditional medicine centers have all taken up the fight against this disease in this part of the world.
At Health for all Herbal Research Center we are working on the increased awareness of the disease and screening people and giving the vaccine to protect people from the infection.
As part of this, for the 25th and 26th of July this year, the clinic is embarking on a Hepatitis B awareness campaign and screening to coincide with the World Hepatitis Day on the 28th of July, 2014.
The role of herbal medicine in the healthcare of the nation can not be underestimated neither we will try in any way to overemphasize it but our nation need a blend of traditional and orthodox medicine to serve our citizens healthcare needs better.
Bringing science and modern pharmaceutical techniques to bear, both in the practice and the production of the herbal products is the hallmark of the clinic.
Vaccination is the mainstay when it comes to preventing this infectious disease.
The complete vaccine series induces protective antibody levels in more than 95% of infants, children and young adults. Protection lasts at least 20 years and is possibly lifelong.
All children and adolescents younger than 18 years old and not previously vaccinated should receive the vaccine if they live in countries where there is low or intermediate endemicity. In those settings it is possible that more people in high risk groups may acquire the infection and they should also be vaccinated. They include:
• people who frequently require blood or blood products, dialysis patients, recipients of solid organ transplantations;
• people interned in prisons;
• injecting drug users;
• household and sexual contacts of people with chronic HBV infection;
• people with multiple sexual partners, as well as health-care workers and others who may be exposed to blood and blood products through their work; and
• travelers who have not completed their hepatitis B vaccination series should be offered the vaccine before leaving for endemic areas.
The vaccine has an excellent record of safety and effectiveness. Since 1982, over one billion doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been used worldwide. In many countries, where 8-15% of children used to become chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus, vaccination has reduced the rate of chronic infection to less than 1% among immunized children.
Do not get it all wrong, hepatitis B is a serious disease, its spreading and we all need to take action to prevent getting it and giving it to others. Protect yourself, protect others.