A virologist, Dr Olabusoye Adewumi, says getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis infection.
Adewumi, who works at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, made this statement in an interview on Friday in Ibadan.
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver which could result in liver damage or liver cancer if not detected and treated early.
The virologist said that there are five main hepatitis viruses including A, B, C, D and E which could result in chronic illnesses.
“Hepatitis A, which is always an acute, short-term disease, is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from infected person.
“Hepatitis B, which is the commonest one, constitutes a major global public health problem, and it is a potentially life-threatening liver infection which causes liver cancer.
“Hepatitis C can also cause chronic infection of the liver and we are beginning to see more ever before. However, there are no official statistics of the total number of people affected by hepatitis B and C.
“While there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C Virus, there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B virus,” he said.
Adewumi said Hepatitis B vaccine had been included in the national programme on immunisation schedule for children and adults, who were not vaccinated as infants; they could also get vaccinated.
“The adult vaccine is given in three doses. The second dose is given one month after the first dose, followed by a third dose given six months after the second dose.
“This has been found to be safe, effective and available,” he said.
According to him, risk factors for hepatitis include, having more than one sex partner; having sexual contact with infected people; having chronic liver disease; having diabetes; working in healthcare, poor hygiene, improperly cooked food and being an injection drug user.
“Hepatitis B is called a silent killer because most people do not experience any symptoms when infected until it has caused a serious damage to the liver or developed into liver cancer.
“In essence, what I am saying is that every Nigerian adult should go for testing to ascertain their hepatitis status and to undergo early medical intervention if infected,” he said.
Adewumi said that some symptoms of hepatitis include yellowing of the eyes , dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.