- By Deb Balzer
Mayo Clinic Minute: ABCs of hepatitis
World Hepatitis Day is July 28 ─ a day to raise awareness of the global burden of the viral disease. Nearly 1.4 million people die each year from viral hepatitis, according to the World Health Organization. Hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It comes in many forms, including hepatitis A, B and C.
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Approximately 5.3 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis. Dr. Stacey Rizza, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic says, “Anything that affects the liver and causes inflammation, by definition, is a hepatitis.”
Dr. Rizza breaks down the ABCs of hepatitis.
“'A' is the first one, and that is the type of infection you get from eating contaminated water or foods. You could get very, very sick from it, but it doesn’t go on to be a chronic infection.”
Vaccines protect against hepatitis A, and are especially important for children and travelers.
“Hepatitis B is the second virus that was identified, and that is one that can cause a chronic infection. We’re fortunate that we have a very, very effective vaccine for hepatitis B.”
Hepatitis C is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids. The virus can cause liver damage and death.
“We do not have a vaccine for it," says Dr. Rizza. "But we have in the last several years very, very effective therapies to treat hepatitis C.”