In its many forms, hepatitis poses a serious threat to health. What all forms have in common is that they cause inflammation of the liver. In the long term, the most common viral forms – hepatitis B and C – can cause serious health problems such as liver cancer, cirrhosis and liver failure resulting in death. In the short term, hepatitis A often manifests as a foodborne illness accompanied by vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.
Every year on 28. July is World Hepatitis Day, coinciding with the start of the vacation season for many people in the WHO European Region, when they take a much-needed break from work and daily routines. Although hepatitis is a year-round threat, certain summer vacation activities pose a particular risk of infection. Fortunately, there are ways to protect against hepatitis infection, both by vaccination and by taking steps to limit the risk of infection.
avoid hepatitis A by careful handling of food and drinks
Many people know that infection with hepatitis A is associated with poor sanitation or unsafe drinking water. Few realize, however, that even touching a piece of fruit at the market can leave hepatitis A pathogens on the hands, where they are just waiting to enter the body through the mouth. It's always important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. But when traveling to parts of the world where outbreaks of hepatitis A are common, it is even more important to.
To prevent infection with hepatitis A and other food- or waterborne illnesses, one should:
– check to see if drinking water is safe – if not, use bottled water or boiled tap water and also use it to brush teeth; – peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them; – refrain from eating raw or undercooked meats or. Avoid fish; – Avoid drinks that contain ice cubes or are made with unsafe drinking water; and – Wash your hands often.
Many cases of hepatitis A clear up without needing treatment. But one bad case can easily ruin your entire vacation. There is a vaccination against hepatitis A. Two doses, given at least six months apart, protect for at least twenty years.
In addition, the virus can be transmitted through close physical or sexual contact with an infected person or through dirty hands.
Beware of hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Unsafe sexual intercourse can also pose a risk, as can getting a tattoo or piercing or having a manicure/pedicure in premises with inadequate hygienic standards. If you can't be sure that a nail salon is following the appropriate guidelines to prevent hepatitis transmission, consider using your own utensils such as nail clippers and nail scissors.
Hepatitis C is transmitted exclusively through blood-to-blood contact. This form of the disease can also be transmitted through unsafe sex, unhygienic tattoos, piercings and nail treatments, but this is much less common than hepatitis B. The highest risk of infection comes from unsafe blood transfusions, blood products, and medical or dental care. dental treatments.
Hepatitis B and C are so-called silent diseases because many people have no symptoms at all. In addition, for a long time there was too little awareness of hepatitis, so many people did not know they were infected. Testing is an important part of a strategy to improve population health, as long-term infection with hepatitis B or C can lead to liver damage or cancer. If you think you may be infected with hepatitis B or C, discuss the possibility of testing with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Vaccination against hepatitis B is the best protection. Is part of routine vaccinations for children in many countries. The vaccine has only been widely available since 2000, so today's adults may not have been vaccinated as children. The vaccine is extremely effective. Three doses provide immunity for at least twenty years.
Hepatitis C is now curable – but prevention is still critical
To date, there is no vaccination against hepatitis C. Injecting drug users are at the highest risk, but anything that could cause infected blood to enter the bloodstream carries a risk and should be avoided if possible.
According to Samantha May, head of support at the Hepatitis C Trust, the vacation season is a cause for concern each year in terms of hepatitis infections. The Hepatitis C Trust is a charity in the United Kingdom that aims to raise awareness of the disease and also operates a confidential, patient-led, national telephone helpline. In the last 16 years, the helpline has received more than 45,000 calls.
"If someone fears they have been infected by a tattoo, I ask the caller to recall if the ink and needles were sealed and opened before their eyes. That's the kind of hygiene we're hoping for," she explains.
"We also receive calls from people who have undergone cosmetic or dental surgical treatment abroad and are now worried. Such cases are associated with a certain risk, it always depends on the circumstances and the premises. But the risk is most likely much lower than for injecting drug users who share a needle, or in the case of a blood transfusion performed before 1990. Ultimately, only a test can provide certainty.