What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation of liver caused by some viruses, drugs, chemicals and other substances.But most common form of hepatitis is the viral hepatitis.
There are two types of hepatitis-Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Hepatitis A is a infectious form of viral diseases of mild nature. It is also called epidemic hepatitis or infective hepatitis. It spreads through contaminated food, clothings, utensils etc. The usual contaminant is the faecal matter of the diseased person. The symptoms of the disease are anorexia, malaise, nausia, diarrhoea, fever and chill. These may be accompanied by jaundice. It lasts for 4-6 weeks and eventually disappears without causing harm to liver.
No serological test has been established to detect the presence of the virus in the blood. Only some viral particles can be seen in the stool of the diseased person if seen under electron microscope. It has not been possible to cultivate the virus in tissue in non-human host.
The virus enter through contaminated food and water, pass through the acidic stomach (acid resistant) and enter into small intestine. They infect the mucosal epithelial cells, replicate and spread to the adjacent cells through portal circulatory system and ultimately reach the liver.
Hepatitis B on the other hand is called serum hepatitis,homologous serum jaundice or long incubation hepatitis. Unlike Hepatitis A it spreads through blood of donors, serum, plasma, contaminated syringe and blood transfusion equipment. It also spreads through body fluids such as tear, saliva, semen etc. The hepatitis B virus however can be distinguished by the presence of a specific surface
antigen designated as HB -Ag. Hepatitis B causes chronic liver inflammation which may persist for the life time. Persons having B-viruses act as carrier because of the passive immunity of some persons towards the virus. Unlike A-type viruses the B-type viruses can infect round the year and at any age.Incubation period is longer (50-160 days), fever above 100.0 F is uncommon. As a prophylaxis measure gama-globulin is ineffective.
Both types of viruses are highly infectious which infect the liver. As the children are more prone to the disease, it is of utmost importance to protect them against infection by the viruses of both the types. As A-viruses spread through faecal contaminated food and water, all precautions must be taken to protect food and water from contamination when the disease breaks out in epidemic form. As B- viruses spread through blood or body fluids, the blood of donor and blood taken from blood-bank must be checked and disposable syringes, needle etc. should be used to avoid transmission of the viruses.