May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in Ohio and nationally.
There are many types of infectious hepatitis, including A, B, C, D and E.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne infection in the United States. Nearly 4 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. This virus is spread through drug injection or contact with blood even blood that has been sitting on a surface for more than 7 days. In the past, blood transfusions were a common cause of hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis B is also a blood borne pathogen, usually transmitted during sexual contact or at birth. In the past, blood transfusions were a cause of hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease. Hepatitis D is a tag along virus that requires concurrent infection with hepatitis B. Infection with both viruses may lead to earlier liver damage.
Hepatitis A and E are commonly spread through food or water contaminated with feces. There is a vaccine available for hepatitis A.
There are other forms of hepatitis as well, including alcoholic hepatitis, drug-induced hepatitis (from prescription, over the counter and recreational drugs), infections other than the hepatitis viruses and poisoning.
For more information on Hepatitis Awareness Month, visit Columbus Public Health, which is offering a hepatitis C testing event later this month.