How is Hepatitis A Spread?
A person can get hepatitis A from:
- Eating food or drinking water carrying the virus. (Infected food and water is usually a problem in developing nations where poor sanitation is common).
Prevention of Hepatitis A
- Wash your hands with soap after going to the toilet
- Only consume food that have just been cooked
- Only drink commercially bottled water, or boiled water if you're unsure of water sanitation
- Only eat fruits that you can peel if you are somewhere where sanitation is unreliable
- Only eat raw vegetables if you are sure they have been cleaned/disinfected thoroughly
- Get a vaccine for hepatitis A if you live or travel to places where hepatitis may be endemic.
Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can lead to serious illness or death. It is spread through unsafe sex and other activities where blood or body fluids are exchanged. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby. Once infected, a person can spread the virus even if he or she does not feel sick. Immunisation is the best way to reduce the risk of infection.
Most people recover from the virus within six months, but sometimes the virus will cause a lifelong, chronic infection, possibly resulting in serious liver damage.
How is Hepatitis B Spread?
Hepatitis B may be transmitted by:
- Having sex with an infected person.
- Sharing dirty needles.
- Being in direct contact with infected blood.
- Getting needle stick injuries.
- Mother to unborn child.
- Being in contact with an infected person's body fluids.
Prevention of Hepatitis B
- Tell the partner if you are a carrier, ask your partner if they are a carrier
- Practice safe sex
- Only use clean syringes that have not been used by anyone else
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors, or manicure instruments
- Have a hepatitis B series of shots if you are at risk
- Only allow well-sterilized skin perforating equipment (tattoo, acupuncture, etc.).
Hepatitis C - Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It is commonly spread through sharing unsterile needles, syringes and other injecting drug equipment. There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection, but treatment is effective for some people. When the initial infection lasts for more than six months, it is called chronic hepatitis C, which may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is considered to be among the most serious of the hepatitis viruses.
Many people may not feel ill when first infected with hepatitis C while others may find their urine becomes dark, and their eyes and skin turn yellow (this is known as jaundice), or they may experience a minor flu-like illness. These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, but this does not necessarily mean that the infection has been cleared.
How is Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C may be transmitted by:
- Tattoo and body piercing equipment that has not been properly cleaned, disinfected or sterilised
- Sharing toothbrushes, razor blades or other personal items that could have small amounts of blood on them
- One person’s blood coming into contact with open cuts on another person
- Pregnancy or childbirth – there is a five percent chance of a mother with chronic hepatitis C infection passing on the virus to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Breastfeeding is safe unless nipples are cracked or bleeding
- Blood-to-blood contact during sex – sexual transmission rates of hepatitis C are very low, but the risk is increased with certain sexual practices or circumstances where there is the possibility of blood-to-blood contact (for example, sex during menstruation, and rough sex that can cause a tear.
Prevention of Hep C -
- Never share needles.
- Avoid direct exposure to blood or blood products.
- Don't share personal care items.
- Choose tattoo and piercers
- Practice safe sex. (It is rare for hepatitis C to be transmitted through sexual intercourse, but there is greater risk of getting hepatitis C if you have a sexually transmitted disease, HIV, or multiple sex partners or if you engage in rough sex).
Hepatitis D - Only a person who is already infected with hepatitis B can become infected with hepatitis D. Hepatitis D infection can occur as a co-infection, which means it occurs at the same time as hepatitis B infection; or it can occur as a superinfection in people who already have chronic hepatitis B. Infection is through contact with infected blood, unprotected sex, and perforation of the skin with infected needles. The liver of a person with Hepatitis D swells.
Prevention - Use the same guidelines as for hepatitis B. Only a person who is infected with hepatitis B can become infected with hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E - Hepatitis E is transmitted via the faecal-oral route and can be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. The highest rates of hepatitis E infection occur in regions where there is poor sanitation and sewage management that promotes the transmission of the virus. Hepatitis E causes an acute (short-term) illness but does not cause a chronic (life-long) infection.
Prevention - At present, no vaccine exists for the prevention of hepatitis E. As hepatitis E is spread through the fecal-oral route, prevention of hepatitis E relies primarily on having access to clean drinking water and using good personal hygiene.