According to city-based doctors, Hepatitis A and E, being food or water-borne, have a surge in the number of cases, especially during festivals and monsoon season in Mumbai
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Mumbai has witnessed a steep rise in hepatitis cases in the last three years. As per the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s data, around 55 new hepatitis cases were reported in July so far against 64 cases in the last month.
Hepatitis A and E are contagious liver infections that spread through contaminated food or water. The symptoms take five-six weeks to emerge. According to city-based doctors, Hepatitis A and E, being food or water-borne, have a surge in the number of cases, especially during festivals and monsoon season in Mumbai.
Speaking about the cases in Mumbai, Dr Tehsin A Petiwala, Consultant Hepatologist said, “It is yet early to say about the number of cases this year, but last year there were over 300 cases of hepatitis reported from Mumbai. Young individuals especially those below 30 years of age are particularly prone to suffering from hepatitis, as studies have shown that the first attack of the food-borne virus such as Hepatitis A and E occurs in early childhood years in endemic regions. Moreover, multiple sexual partners, tattooing and injection drug abuse are maximal before this age thus making them vulnerable to blood-borne or sexually transmitted viruses like Hepatitis B and C.”
Acute hepatitis is an acute illness presenting with fever, malaise, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Explaining the symptoms, Dr Ameet Mandot, senior consultant and clinical lead - Adult Hepatology and Liver Transplant unit, Global Hospital, said, “It causes a flu-like illness that starts suddenly about a month after infection. Symptoms usually include nausea or vomiting, having no appetite, fever higher than 100.4 F, pain under the ribs on the right side or feeling tired. Later on, the symptoms usually include dark-coloured urine, light-coloured bowel movements and yellowish discoloration of the skin and sclera along with itchy skin. Very rarely, it can cause liver failure”
While last year there were 308 hepatitis cases and one death reported in Mumbai, this year within seven months, the count of cases recorded by BMC has reached 308. In 2020, the city reported 263 hepatitis cases.
Dr. Akash Shukla, Director, Hepatology at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said, “Young adults are the highest consumers of street food, are socially and sexually active, and also are enthusiastic travellers making them vulnerable to food-borne liver diseases like Hepatitis A and E and sexually transmissible liver diseases like hepatitis B and C. Adults with Hepatitis A and pregnant women with Hepatitis E are at higher risk of developing liver failure. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A and B but not for Hepatitis C or E.”
Dr Mandot, added, “Non-A-E hepatitis accounts for about 15 per cent of cases in Mumbai. Blood-borne hepatitis B also has a high prevalence in the Indian population. The infectious cases are more common in adults (30-59 years).”
Preventive measures to be taken for hepatitis
Doctors suggest improving hygiene and sanitation, drinking filtered water and avoiding unhygienic food will help prevent food-borne hepatitis A and E.
Safe sexual practices, making sure new, sterile needles are used for ear or body piercing, tattoos and acupuncture and avoiding direct contact with blood and body fluids will be useful to prevent Hepatitis B and C.