*** Hepatitis A most often results from contaminated food, and outbreaks in developed countries are often linked to restaurants and/or other food suppliers who may have one or more individauls on staff who are infected and practicing poor hygiene when handling food. Hepatitis A is the most vaccine-preventable illness in travelers and tourists.
While Hepatitis A is the most prevalent, it goes away on its own and does not lead to long term liver damage if a full recovery is made-this virus can be fatal or lead to liver failure in a small percentage of infected individuals. Most people growing up in Viet Nam have often been exposed to this virus in their early years and infection in children, adolescents, and younger adults usually does not bring on serious consequences.
*** Hepatitis B can have far more serious consequences, including liver scarring, cirrhosis of the liver, and liver cancer. It can also be fatal in a small percentage of cases occurring acutely when the person is first infected. It can be contracted by sexual intercourse, by infected blood (in a blood transfusion), by dirty re-used needles (often by injection drug users) and can be transmitted from chronic-infected mothers to thier child at, or just before birth.
It’s estimated that more than 350 million people around the world have been infected with the Hepatitis B virus, and nearly 75% of them are Asian. Viet Nam has one of the highest rates of infection in the world.
The good news about the Hepatitis B virus, is that this infection is vaccine-preventable. It sound medical advice for people to know their immune status, that is whether they are immune to, or not immune to this virus. If you have never had the vaccine or never been infected, you can benefit from receiving the Hepatitis B vaccination (most newborn babies in Viet Nam are receiving Hepatitis B vaccination).
*** Hepatitis C is almost always a chronic infection and carries a very significant rate of liver cancer over a 30 year period. It is almost entirely transmitted by blood-blood infection, which can happen in infected blood from a blood tranfusion (both Heaptitis B and Hepatitis C viruses ARE checked for when giving blood from blood donors, preventing most blood products that might carry the virus from ever being in the community blood supply) and from dirty or shared needles.
There are now treatments available for Chronic Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Dr. Doanh Lu is an American Infectious Disease Specialist and has expertise in the evaluation and treatment of Viral Hepatitis like Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Please make an appointment to see Dr. Doanh Lu at the Stamford Medical Clinic if you or one of your family members is seeking education, evaluation, and possible treatment for Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C infection.
*** Heaptitis D is called a super-infecting virus, and it can only infect persons who are already infected with Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis E virus is similar to Hepatitis A virus in that contaminated food is the source. Hepatitis E is most common in the Indian subcontinent but infections are now occurring more and more frequently in the countries of S.E. Asia.