“Viral hepatitis is sometimes called a silent disease because people who are infected often show no signs of illness. World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to educate ourselves about viral hepatitis, which can be prevented, diagnosed and treated – and is therefore possible to eliminate.

“Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viruses, medicines, alcohol, chemicals and other toxins and lead to a range of health concerns, sometimes resulting in premature death. Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common viruses that cause hepatitis infections. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware they have hepatitis because they do not experience any symptoms or may have mild symptoms that resemble the flu or other common illnesses.

“Some types of viral hepatitis are acquired by consuming contaminated food and water or by lack of proper handwashing, particularly in countries where the disease is common. Other types of viral hepatitis are transmitted by exposure to blood and body fluids, or by sharing drug use equipment or personal items with an infected person. Viral hepatitis may also be transmitted from mom to baby.

“Albertans are encouraged to learn more about the five types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D and E). Speak with your primary care provider about risk factors, transmission, prevention, testing and treatment. If you’re travelling to a high-risk country, protect yourself by getting the Hepatitis A and B vaccines. No one needs to lose their life to hepatitis.”