Hepatitis is a swelling of the liver from an infectious virus.
About 90% of people with hepatitis don’t even know they have it, so they don’t take any precautions to avoid spreading the disease.
Iowans most likely to have hepatitis are baby boomers (born from 1945 to 1964), persons who have had sex with someone who has hepatitis and anyone who has used injection drugs.
Hepatitis B and C viruses can be spread through infected blood, tattoos or other body fluids. Pregnant women can pass hepatitis to their unborn child.
A simple blood test can detect hepatitis, and this screening can be done at your primary clinic. All baby boomers and anyone who received an organ transplant prior to 1992 should get a blood screening for hepatitis.
Typical treatment for adults are pills for 8-12 weeks. This cures over 90% of cases and has few side effects.
All pregnant women should be tested for hepatitis in their first trimester. Newborns of mothers who were positive for hepatitis need to receive Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG) and Hepatitis B Vaccine (HBV) within 12 hours of birth.
Follow up doses of HBV are needed for baby at age 1-2 months, and again at age 6 months.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.