Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver.

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It is caused by a virus. Several kinds of hepatitis virus infect the liver, but the most common are the hepatitis A and B viruses.

Hepatitis A is caught through the contamination of food and water with excrement as a result of poor personal hygiene or sanitation. Hepatitis B is spread through exchange of blood and body fluids. It can be contracted through unprotected sex, unsterilised needles or contaminated blood.

There are four other known hepatitis viruses, named from C to G. Hepatitis C is also spread through exchange of blood or blood products. It is spread through sharing needles and needle stick accidents. The virus is fragile, sexual or mother to baby transmission do not appear to be important. It was spread by blood transfusions before mid-1992, when screening for hepatitis C was brought in.

Vaccination is available for tourists and medical or other workers who may be at risk of contact. Many vaccinations are available for both hepatitis A and B, providing up to 10 years’ protection for hepatitis A and 5 for hepatitis B. There is also a vaccine that gives combined protection against both hepatitis A and B.

Prevention is better than cure. To prevent Hepatitis A, practise cleanliness in each and every task of your day like washing hands before eating after using the toilet and avoiding contaminated food.

To prevent Hepatitis B, avoid ear-piecing or tattooing where the sterility of the instruments is not guarantee able, never share injection needles, use a condom when having sex.

Other sources of information for these topics.

Index | CDC Viral Hepatitis
Provides information about the viral hepatitis for patients and physicians.

Hepatitis Information Network - HepNet
HepNet is a huge hepatitis resource, providing updates on patient care issues, new clinical papers, news releases and more.

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