Mumbai: 2022 sees 60% hepatitis cases in kids, low immunity, unhygienic lifestyle major reasons

Mumbai: 2022 sees 60% hepatitis cases in kids, low immunity, unhygienic lifestyle major reasons

Senior health officials said Covid, low immunity level, contaminated food and unhygienic lifestyle are the primary factors for more cases among children.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, February 17, 2023, 10:29 PM IST
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Representative image | PTI

In 2022, nearly 60% of acute hepatitis cases reported across Mumbai were among children, as per the civic health department. According to the data, 592 cases were detected between January and December 2022. Of them, 348 were among children. Senior health officials said Covid, low immunity level, contaminated food and unhygienic lifestyle are the primary factors for more cases among children. The city had 263 hepatitis cases in 2020, which further increased to 308 in 2021. According to doctors, hepatitis cases are more commonly found in the young adult population.

Hepatitis A and E result in liver inflammation caused by several viruses (viral hepatitis), chemicals, drugs, alcohol or certain genetic disorders. It can also be caused by an overactive immune system mistakenly attacking the liver, termed autoimmune hepatitis. Depending on its course, hepatitis can either be chronic or acute. In cases where hepatitis is critical, it can flare up at constant intervals. In contrast, chronic hepatitis is generally a long-term condition that results in progressive liver damage.

“Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are known to cause chronic disease which can lead to complications, including cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Hepatitis is a silent epidemic killing thousands each year. The inclusion of HBV vaccination in the expanded programme of immunisation has been essential in reducing the HBV carrier frequency and disease burden in India,” said a senior gastroenterologist from the civic-run hospital. Covid has been connected to cases of severe hepatitis in children that have lately arisen. According to a study, SARS-CoV-2 could be the cause of hepatitis in hundreds of children around the world, he added.

Senior civic health official said, “Young adults are the highest consumers of street food, are socially and sexually active and also are enthusiastic travellers. All this makes 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,” he said, pointing out that vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B, but not for hepatitis C or E.

Notably, viral hepatitis is the cause of a major health care burden in India and is equated as a threat comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases – HIV / AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. About 1,76,000 people die each year of hepatitis B and C-related complications – two times the estimated annual number of HIV and malaria deaths together, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

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