Despite Hepatitis being the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after tobacco, every one in 12 persons globally suffers from its deadly forms — B and C — which can lead to liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are water-borne viruses that are less severe in nature.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), which has decided to observe July 28 as World Hepatitis Day, viral hepatitis kills more people than any other communicable disease, including HIV, in south-east Asia region.
The estimated number of deaths in the region owing to viral hepatitis and its complications exceeds deaths due to malaria, dengue and HIV/AIDS combined. Approximately 40 million people are estimated to be infected with hepatitis B and C viruses.
"Though hepatitis viruses are the most common causes of liver damage in India and nearly 10 lakh people might be dying per year due to acute liver failure, there's no way to know the exact disease burden as we don't have infectious disease control registry," said Dr SK Acharya, professor of gastroenterology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who has been part of the hospital's liver research unit.
WHO has decided to create awareness about the disease and urge countries to make the disease a national health priority. Most people who are suffering from B and C viruses do not show any symptoms. "It's the degree of liver damage that causes symptoms. In most cases, by the time symptoms are visible, there is already about 70% damage to the organ," said Dr Acharya.
Hepatitis A and E that have an oral-fecal route, show symptoms such as jaundice, fever, nausea, appetite loss, etc.