With so many diseases at large, globally, it proves to be challenging to fully understand and comprehend all the associated risks when talking about disease contraction. Hepatitis is one such disease where most individuals are not fully aware of the risks and potential exposure they face in their daily life.
To better combat this risk of exposure, there has been a notable shift in Public Health that focuses on a proactive medicine model. This model aims to educate and promote health, while also increasing disease prevention. Despite this model becoming more prevalent within communities, Hepatitis remains a top global health threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Hepatitis affects 500 million people globally, ten times the amount of people infected by HIV/AIDS. Leading to the question, on a preventive measure what can we do?
To understand what preventive measures we can take towards hepatitis, we first should understand what Hepatitis is. Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. The diseases itself is divided into five virus strains, Hepatitis; A, B, C, D and E. Predominately viral Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common strains, with Hepatitis C being considered the most severe.
But what are the differences between the viral Hepatitis viruses, methods of transmission and treatment?
Viral Hepatitis Viruses
HAV – Hepatitis A
- Direct contact with an infected individual
- Consuming contaminated food and water
- Adequate hygienic care / well-maintained hygiene
- Hepatitis A is an acute virus that does not progress to a chronic stage
- There is currently no cure for HAV
- The microorganism for HAV has an associated risk for outbreak due to public toilets
- In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service reported over 2000 cases of HAV, roughly a 43% increase from the previous year.
HBV – Hepatitis B
- Contact with infected bodily fluids
- Mother-to-child transmission
- Infected organ transplant and blood transfer
- Adequate hygienic care / well-maintained hygiene regime
- Blood screening
- The official bulletin of the WHO states, internationally there is 350 million cases if Hepatitis B.
- HBV can appear in two strains; acute and chronic.
- Acute HBV often will disappear own its on, whereas chronic generally requires life long treatment
HCV – Hepatitis C
- Contaminated blood enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person
- Blood screening
- Sterile injection Needles
- Safe/sanitary needle disposal
- Sanitary health settings
- HCV can appear in two strains; acute and chronic.
- Globally, 71 million people are living chronically with Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver cancer
- In 2016, WHO reported an estimated 399 000 died from Hepatitis C.
What to Look for
The five viruses vary in terms of their severity and treatment, but the prevention measures of these viruses all have one common alignment and that is proper sanitation and hygienic practices; on your person, in your home, in your work and in your community. Proper hygiene practices go beyond one’s need to bathe and brush their teeth regularly, to reduce exposure to these viruses it is imperative that we place a hygienic standard in our places of work, in public spaces, on our community.
The risk of contracting the hepatitis virus within your community is great. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) highlights the Hepatitis viruses can live in on fixtures within restrooms as well as, blood-ridden materials for weeks. The endurance Hepatitis holds after it has left one’s body creates great concern for restrooms, as public restrooms see high traffic from a growing volume of people. When considering the core spots within a restroom, a major infection zone for hepatitis is the menstrual care disposal bins which are a common item in public restrooms. These metal wall boxes are not regularly cleaned and therefore puts any user or restroom cleaning staff at potential risk. In 2019, with all that we know, metal wall boxes are not an acceptable method for the disposal of menstrual products in our common spaces.
While menstrual care disposal can be a risk to patrons and users, it is not the only one to look out for. Often in these metal wall boxes, you will find used needles. It is estimated that more than 20 bloodborne pathogens can be transmitted through contaminated needles and sharps, demonstrating a clear need for effective and proper disposal services.
An important solution for businesses and facilities who realise their obligation to protect the community’s public health is to invest in effective sanitary disposal methods. Citron is proud to offer effective and sanitary hygiene solutions for all restrooms. Our menstrual disposal bins account for user’s needs and risk, offering hands-free options for all units. When a certified technician comes to service the restroom, they use a registered health agent to properly sanitize the unit lid, eliminating the chance for live bacteria. Once the waste has been changed, a deodorizer is left in the bottom of the unit to combat odour and the waste is sent to be converted into energy. With needles still posing a considerable risk for patrons and users, it is important that business and facilities address this need by offering proper sharps disposal and consider their guest and user safety. Citron’s sharps disposal allows the units to be changed by a professional, offering a practical option for people who do use sharps to dispose of their sharp in a correct manner rather than putting others at risk. As health continues to be a primary focus for all, it is important we continue to strive to adopt a preventive mindset.