Hepatitis ABC's - ThisWeek Community News | AbcVitaminNutrition

Hepatitis ABC's – ThisWeek Community News

FDA recently alerted consumers to possible hepatitis A contamination of Bauer’s Candies Modjeskas. A worker in the factory who produces the candy had tested positive for hepatitis A. The FDA told consumers to throw away any Bauer’s Candies Chocolate or Caramel Modjeskas, purchased after Nov. 14, 2018. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not aware of any cases of hepatitis A related to consumption of these candies.

Why all the attention and the alert? Because hepatitis can be a very serious and often silent disease. The three most prevalent forms are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. All can affect the liver adversely.

Hepatitis A is a viral condition that is highly contagious and causes inflammation of the liver resulting in the liver’s inability to function appropriately. Hepatitis A is most frequently contracted through contaminated food or water or from someone already infected. Mild cases don’t require treatment. Most of those affected have a complete recovery with no permanent liver damage. Vaccines are available and recommended for children starting at age 1 and for people traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis A. Once more, good hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent contracting hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B for some people becomes chronic illness. This leads to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis (a condition causing permanent scarring of the liver). Hepatitis B is spread through body fluids. Most people infected as adults recover fully; infants and children are much more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B infection.

No cure currently exists for hepatitis B, but treatment options are available and there is a vaccine that can prevent the disease. Vaccination is recommended for children starting in infancy; people being treated for a sexually transmitted infection); health care workers and others who come in contact with blood on the job; people with end-stage kidney disease; and people traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis B. If a person is infected with hepatitis B there are precautions that can help prevent the spread of hepatitis B to others.

Hepatitis C is the “sneaky” hepatitis. Most people infected with hepatitis C virus have no symptoms and are unaware they have hepatitis C until liver damage shows up years, even decades, later during regular medical tests. Hepatitis C is considered to be the most serious of the three viruses. Hepatitis C is passed through contact with contaminated blood. The frequent example is through needles shared during illegal drug use. Unfortunately, contact sometimes comes through dealing with cuts and scrapes of an infected person. Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from the body.

Dr. Stacey Rizza of the Mayo Clinic has said “Hepatitis C infection can be asymptomatic for decades but typically appears as liver problems over time. This can happen faster if people’s immune systems decline due to other conditions as they age. It’s a good idea to ask your physician about testing for it during your regular checkup. All forms of hepatitis should be taken seriously as the risks for them have increased in recent years.” The Centers for Disease Control recommends hepatitis C screening for all baby boomers.

All of this information leads to the question, “what can a parent do?” First, vaccinate; prevention is better than treatment after the fact. Second, teach your child proper hand washing. Third, talk to your child about the hidden dangers of drug use.

Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at BeverlyVT@aol.com.

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