Hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by various viruses.There about seven recognized viruses responsible for the infection of the liver:–hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Of these A, B, C, and E are of greatest concern to health practitioners.

Collectively all the types of hepatitis kill about 1.4 million people globally every year. However not much is known by the public about the disease and hence not much is done in the way of prevention on personal level.

Hepatitis E was discovered in the United States of America in 1990; it is fairly common in countries where environmental sanitation is poor, being essentially a water borne disease.

Epidemic outbreaks have occurred in Asia, Central America and North Africa; countries of interest include China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Burma, and Somalia.

Hepatitis E is more severe in pregnant women and can cause infection of the baby in the womb that could lead to abortion, death of the baby in the womb, and death of the new born.

There is no vaccine against hepatitis E.

1. Food hygiene.
Cook all foods thoroughly. Vegetables must be properly washed before cooking. Ditto for fruits. All cooked foods must be properly covered to protect them from flies that can contaminate them. Heat cooked food before eating, this will kill any germs including the Hepatitis E virus.

2. Proper sanitation facilities.
Only about 40 percent of Nigerians have access to proper sanitation facilities, consequently defeacation is mainly in the open. Hepatitis E virus is contained in the stool (shit) of an infected person; with open defeacation, sources of water are easily contaminated. The incidence of Hepatitis E is lower in countries with proper sanitation facilities.

On the individual level, we must avoid defeacating in the open, even in villages, pit latrines now exist. We must use them.

3. Personal hygiene.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet. Do the same before preparing food and also before eating. The virus cannot survive the soap and off course washing also removes visible dirt.

4. Safe water
Always boil your water for drinking or drink only bottled water. Heat kills the virus. After boiling, keep in special containers with cover; the boiled water be used for only 24 hours, boil another one for the next 24 hours or re-boil it.

5. Cook meat thoroughly
Hepatitis E affects mainly human but can also occur in animals like chimpanzees, goats, cows, sheep and rats. Consequently if an animal infected by the hepatitis E virus is eaten without being thoroughly cooked, that person can get the disease.

6. Be aware of the disease.
Being aware of a disease is the first step towards avoiding the disease. Learn about hepatitis E, what causes it and how it spreads. When you know how it spreads, then you will know how to avoid it.

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