Viral hepatitis cases in Cordillera up by 55 percent

The Cordillera office of the Department of Health (DOH-CAR) reported that acute viral hepatitis cases in the region for the first sixteen weeks of the year increased by fifty five precent compared to the number of cases that was reported by the agency during the same reckoning period last year.

Based on a report obtained from the DOH-CAR’s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit (RESU), there were some 62 acute viral hepatitis cases that were recorded by the different provincial health offices for the first 16 weeks of the current year compared to the 40 cases that were reported by the agency during the same period last year.

Karen Lonogan, senior health program officer of the DOH-CAR-RESU, said that there was one hepatitis-related death that was recorded by health personnel for the first 16 weeks compared to the only 40 cases that were reported during the same period last year.

The reported acute viral hepatitis cases were from Benguet with 26 cases followed by Baguio City and non-CAR provinces with 18 cases each.

However, Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Kalinga did not record any acute viral hepatitis cases during the said period.

According to the DOH-CAR-RESU report, the age range of those who were able to acquire acute viral hepatitis is from 20 years old to 91 years old with a median of 37 years.

Lonogan explained that acute hepatitis is an acute viral illness wherein laboratory tests reveal that cases typically include acute jaundice, a dark urine, anorexia, malaise, extreme fatigue, and right upper quadrant tenderness caused by hepatitis A, B, C, D and E virus.

She explained that most infections occur in early childhood and that a variable proportion of adult infections are asymptomatic.

Health authorities claimed that the transmission of the virus is mainly fecal-oral for hepatitis A and E, body fluids for hepatitis B, C and D.

They explained that the course of the disease may be fulminating like hepatitis A in pregnancy; chronic infection and severe sequelae occur for hepatitis B, C and D.

Among the proposed methods of controlling the spread of the illness include educating the public about proper sanitation and personal hygiene with special emphasis on hand washing and sanitary disposal of feces; proper waste disposal and good environmental sanitation; infection control in health facilities and proper disposal of human samples and immunization for the protection of individuals from acquiring the illness.

Acute viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by infection with one of the five hepatitis viruses. In most people, the inflammation begins suddenly and lasts only a few weeks.

Acute viral hepatitis can cause anything from a minor flu-like illness to fatal liver failure. Sometimes there are no symptoms. The severity of symptoms and speed of recovery vary considerably, depending on the particular virus and on the person's response to the infection. Hepatitis A and C often cause very mild symptoms or none at all and may be unnoticed. Hepatitis B and E are more likely to produce severe symptoms. Infection with both hepatitis B and D (called coinfection) may make the symptoms of hepatitis B even more severe. - Dexter A. See