OCEAN COUNTY – Ocean County recognizes World Hepatitis Day on July 28 this year; acknowledging the disease that affects approximately 4.4 million Americans right now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection. Those 4.4 million Americans affected have either hepatitis B or C. Some others don’t even know that they have hepatitis. Ocean County officials remind residents that it is important to get tested if you are concerned about this disease.
“Testing, which starts with a doctor’s exam and often a simple blood test, has the potential to save many lives,” said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. “Accordingly, the Ocean County Health Department offers free hepatitis C testing and also provides clinic services for hepatitis B to insure our Ocean County residents have the resources to confront this disease.”
Little also noted that chronic hepatitis B or C can lead to more serious health problems and could put you at risk for chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“Treatment options vary depending on which type of hepatitis you have. You can prevent some forms of hepatitis through immunizations and lifestyle precautions,” said Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator Daniel E. Regenye.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV). You can contract this disease through injecting drugs, having intercourse or sharing razors with an infected person, officials said.
“It is estimated by the CDC that 1.2 million people in the United States and 350 million people worldwide live with this chronic disease,” said Regenye.
Hepatitis C comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can be transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, such as through injection drug use and sexual contact.
“HCV is among the most common blood borne viral infections in the United States. Approximately 2.7 to 3.9 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection, pursuant to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Regenye added.
The Ocean County Health Department provides clinic services that emphasize active treatment and management of the disease to prevent worsening outcomes.
For more information about hepatitis, visit the OCHD website at ochd.org.