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Hepatitis Causes and Prevention

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Image is from National Hemophilia Foundation

Hepatitis means inflammation of a person’s liver cells due to an injury to the liver. There are different types of hepatitis you can get that can be determined through a laboratory test. Hepatitis can heal on its own without the need of treatment, but in some cases, treatment is necessary since the virus causes a chronic infection. The main types of hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A, B, and C cause the most liver damage.

Hepatitis can be a symptom of another disease, and it is mainly a symptom of autoimmune diseases. The hepatitis is a disease that is mainly caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis often starts as an acute disease but can progress and become chronic if not detected early. The disease can cause liver cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer to the patient.

Causes of Hepatitis

Hepatitis can be caused by toxins from drugs, alcohol or other sources of toxins. It can also be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the liver. However, the most known common cause of hepatitis is a virus.

Hepatitis A and E are short term viral infections that are mainly transmitted through water or food that is contaminated by human or animal waste. Other sources of these forms of hepatitis include under cooked food or raw food that has not been handled in a hygienic way.

Hepatitis B can be spread through having direct contact with infected blood. It can also be sexually transmitted or spread to a child during childbirth.

Hepatitis C can be spread through direct contact with infected blood. It is rare for the disease to be spread from mother to child during childbirth or during sexual intercourse.

Hepatitis D can also be spread through infected blood. However, you can only get hepatitis D if you were infected with hepatitis B. Those who are at the greatest risk of getting the infection include drug users since most share needles. Other at-risk groups include those who have unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Prevention

New cases of hepatitis have been significantly reduced through vaccinations. There are vaccines available for prevention of hepatitis A and B. the vaccinations are effective in reducing the number of infections in children as well as adults.

Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis D. however; the disease can be prevented once you get immunized for hepatitis B.

Babies who are delivered to mothers suffering from hepatitis B should get the vaccine within 12 hours of birth to prevent them from getting infections.

Other things that can be done to prevent infection include the following:

  • Washing your hands and encouraging other people to do the same with water and soap after changing a diaper, after coming from using the bathroom and before handling any food.
  • Avoid eating raw foods from unknown places and always drink bottled, boiled or chemically treated water.
  • Practice safe sex. Using condoms goes a long way in preventing the spread of the infection.
  • Do not share sharp objects or toothbrushes.
  • When performing first aid, always wear gloves.
  • Disinfect all blood spills and wear gloves when cleaning up any body fluids.
  • Seek regular prenatal care when you are pregnant.

To reduce the risk of getting a non-viral type of hepatitis, avoid taking excessive alcohol. Also, consult a physician before starting a new prescription and on taking supplements. Hepatitis is a disease that needs to be taken seriously as it can cause severe damage to your liver.

 

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What is Salmonella?

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Image is from USDA Blog

Every year one million people fall victim to the debilitating effects of salmonella. An invasive food-borne illness this rod-shaped bacterium causes an estimated 380 casualties annually. Identifying the source of salmonella plays a key role in stopping a potentially dangerous epidemic from spreading to your loved ones or yourself. Know your enemy, know your defense. Here are a few important ways you can help prevent salmonella from affecting your day-to-day:

Understand the Threat:

Salmonellosis, the gastrointestinal infection resulting from exposure to salmonella is consistently reappearing each year. With over 2,300 strains of bacteria under the proverbial umbrella of salmonella, frequent reports of contamination are commonplace. Enteritidis and Typhimurium are two of the more popular serotypes (strains) that are known to attack residents of the United States. The intestinal tracts of humans and various types of animals are the starting place for salmonella-producing bacteria growth.

One of the more recent outbreaks, occurring in 2016, was linked to the handling of live poultry. Humans in contact with chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings at multiple hatcheries pointed to the spread of salmonella to close to 900 people. Other outbreaks of the illness came from contaminated cucumbers, various types of butters, peanuts, ground turkey, tuna and eggs in previous years. By adhering to a few simple prevention procedures such outbreaks could have been avoided.

Prevent to Circumvent:

Young children, the elderly, those pregnant or people who have weak immune systems are the most vulnerable to salmonellosis. In these instances the effects of the illness could be life-threatening. Cut off the circulation of salmonella by avoiding the hazards and applying tried-and-true preventative tactics.

Here is a list of the various ways invasive salmonella can find its way into your world:

  1. Improper food handling and storage procedures are notorious culprits in the spread of salmonella.
  2. Unwashed hands can transmit human or animal feces that are tainted with salmonella to food or other hands.
  3. Reptiles can carry salmonella on their skin. Holding a reptile then preparing food or touching others is a recipe for salmonella contamination. Young birds often have salmonella in their intestinal tract. Handling live poultry then coming in contact with others also encourages harmful bacteria transfer.
  4. Raw foods, such as meat or eggs and unpasteurized dairy products are spawning grounds for bacteria production. Unwashed produce is also a known salmonella carrier.

Be aware of the many possibilities for contamination. If you know what to watch for, your awareness could stop painful infections. Washing your hands thoroughly, and employing preventative food handling procedures stops salmonella from spreading. If you have or someone you know has been infected, avoiding contact with others is the best way to ensure that the illness doesn’t continue down its destructive path. Recognize the symptoms to know the next step to take towards future prevention.

Recognize the Symptoms

If you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms below, make a mental note of what you (or a family member) did in the previous hours or days before the illness. It may help doctors diagnose your malady more efficiently. Salmonellosis usually appears 12 to 72 hours after contamination has occurred. Typically the infection runs its course in 4 to 7 days. Depending on the severity, or other risk factors involved, a physician visit may be necessary.

Below are some symptoms that are synonymous with salmonellosis:

  • abdominal cramping
  • headache
  • fever
  • acute watery diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

The importance of washing hands and food cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes the obvious solution is the best one. Wash away harmful bacteria and acquire invaluable peace of mind.

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Understanding Hepatitis A

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Image is from Travel Vaccination New York

Guidelines for Understanding Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral disease of the liver that can be transmitted up to 14 days before you show any symptoms yourself, as well as during your symptoms. Diagnosing the disease requires a medical blood test. The typical painful and depleting symptoms indicating Hepatitis A include:

Contagion Factors

Hepatitis can be transmitted through contact with foods that have been contaminated with exposure to a diseased person’s urine, fecal matter, and polluted with foods, water, ice and bodily fluids contaminated by a person with Hepatitis A. This can be avoided by being careful to never:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, and any other foods that became contaminated during handling by infected workers,
  • Eat raw shellfish harvested from contaminated water,
  • Swallow contaminated ice,
  • Using shared hypodermic needles,
  • Unprotected sexual contact

Risk Factors are high for those residing with infected persons, traveling to areas with high concentrations of Hepatitis A and participating in sexual relations with an infected person.

Vaccine Immune Globulin

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against Hepatitis A. If you come in contact with someone with Hepatitis A, you should acquire the medication immune globulin within 2 weeks of exposure. Another defense is practicing good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after handling food or contact with soiled diapers and undergarments.

The vaccine is administered by your physician in doses and is urgently recommended for anyone who may have been or may be soon exposed to the hepatitis virus. This includes all of the At Risk for Contamination persons as above referenced, plus persons with blood clotting difficulties or diagnosed with a long-term liver disease.

While there is no set treatment for this strain of hepatitis, your physician will monitor you to determine that your liver is strengthening and healing. In healthy individuals, symptoms will cease in about sixty days. If the liver does not heal and deteriorates without the availability of treatment, the only recourse for the patient is to become a candidate for liver transplant, a stressful and serious procedure that is not always successful and requires prescribing of drugs affecting the auto- immune system, increasing the patient’s risk for other diseases. Fortunately, you can only become ill with Hepatitis A once if you have a healthy body to begin with, as your healthy body will build its own defense against a future infection.

Child Care Liver Disease Dangers

The disease can spread quickly in children’s day care centers. Workers could spread the virus if they don’t wash their hands thoroughly after changing each diaper. Washing their hands and putting dirty diapers in a covered diaper pail will help prevent Hepatitis A spreading into all age groups attended as well as all staff and personnel.

Children also spread the disease as well as similar ailments due to children not yet being well trained in safe hygiene in their toilet habits. Contamination can spread very fast through a day care center if the hygiene of children and staff is not strictly enforced and watch-dogged.

Resources for Families

There are resource agencies for the education and counseling of patients and their families pertaining to viral hepatitis. They include:

  • American Liver Foundation,
  • Hepatitis Foundation International,
  • Hepatitis Branch of the U. S. Center for Disease Control.

These agencies provide educational materials and group support assistance for family members as well as patients affected by Hepatitis A.

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Understanding Foodborne Outbreaks

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Image is from stopdrugshortages.org

A foodborne outbreak occurs when there are two or more cases of confirmed illness after consumption of a specific food product. These outbreaks involve the CDC as well as other public health officials as staff members try to control, manage and prevent these types of occurrences. Many times, investigative work is needed in order to determine the scope of the outbreak, the extent and the original source. Learning from each situation is what helps prevent these outbreaks from occurring again in the future.

Investigation

Once reports are made that a foodborne illness was contracted, public health officials work with regulatory officials to collect a large amount of data. They want to know what the food or product was that caused the illness, what were the symptoms, what was the outcome, what batch was this from and so on. This information will be used long term for better quality control and regulations that are enforced by the U.S. Sometimes a recall will need to be issued in order to prevent more people from getting sick. Often times, a warning is all that is needed.

Some data will point specifically to a foodborne outbreak and this includes:

  • A pattern to the illness. Either all the cases were in a short period of time or from the same germ.
  • A larger number of people are ill within the same area than normal.
  • People who otherwise have no connection to one another are ill but ate at the same restaurant or purchased the same product.
  • Common point of confirmed contamination.
  • A certain germ of pathogen is found at a suspected restaurant or store.

Prevention

Ultimately, United States regulatory agencies want to protect the public and prevent foodborne outbreaks from occurring again. Investigation is important when an outbreak occurs, but ongoing research is also part of successful prevention. While not every case of foodborne outbreak is solved, many times there is at least a suspected source of the problem. This leads to better prevention at food producing facilities but also better prevention and investigation methods on a nationwide level.

Ongoing Reporting And Monitoring

An original complaint or report comes from a local or state level in most instances. From there, public health authorities will investigate the claim and involve the CDC when multiple states have become affected by a certain issue. Reports are compiled that include the number of illnesses that are present, hospitalizations, deaths, symptoms, toxins and chemicals that may have caused the issue.

Common symptoms of a foodborne outbreak typically include symptoms that are similar to food poisoning. Stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, aches, etc. Seeking medical assistance can help reduce the severity and danger of the illness and can also lead to preventing other people from getting sick. It takes many different people to prevent foodborne outbreaks from occurring. It starts with the farms that produce our food and ends with the location selling and manufacturing our food. Proper quality control and agricultural practices are ideal for keeping everyone in the United States safe.

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