According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 1.45 million people died of Hepatitis in 2013, however 95% of people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected.
“The world has ignored hepatitis at its peril. It is time to mobilise a global response to hepatitis on the scale similar to that generated to fight other communicable disease like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.” Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, said in a statement.
Expats, particularly those living or working in developing countries, need to be aware of what hepatitis is and how they can help reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
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