Hygiene and nutrition to prevent hepatitis

Simple steps like proper hygiene and good food habits help prevent and control hepatitis

hand washingCleanliness is next to godliness,' shouldn't just be a proverb. It is profoundly related to our health and disease pattern. Diseases like hepatitis are one of the manifestations of poor hygienic practice and reflect our adherence to discipline of hygiene or deviation from it.

Hygiene measures

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness. It is spread by faecal-oral transmission when a person ingests food or drink contaminated by an infected person's stool. The disease is closely associated with poor sanitation and a lack of personal hygiene habits such as hand-washing.

Food hygiene

  • Take precautions especially if you are travelling in rural or underdeveloped areas with poor sanitation.
  • Avoid consuming untreated tap water including ice cubes. When outside, have canned or bottled drinks. You can also boil water if there is doubt regarding canned waters.
  • Avoid eating uncooked fruits and vegetables, especially ones that cannot be peeled. Foods with thick skins might be safe once peeled. Clean all foods thoroughly.
  • Order meat and seafood well-done. Avoid having raw clams, oysters, mussels and other shellfish.
  • Avoid having mayonnaise, cheese, yogurt and other creamy products.
  • Avoid fishing or eating fish from potentially polluted waters.
  • Avoid having food bought from street vendors.

Personal hygiene

  • Always wash hands after using the toilet and before eating or handling food. Wash hands with warm, running water and a mild, preferably liquid, soap. Toilets must be kept clean.
  • Rub hands together vigorously until a soapy lather appears and continue for at least 15 seconds ensuring all surfaces of the hands are covered. Dry hands with a hand dryer or clean towel [preferably paper].
  • Discard disposable towels in a bin. Bins with foot-pedal operated lids are preferable.
  • Avoid sharing with anyone razors, toothbrushes or other implements, which could become contaminated with blood.
  • Minor cuts, open or weeping skin lesions and abrasions should be covered with waterproof or other suitable dressings.
  • Nappies and sanitary towels must be burnt in an incinerator or securely bagged and sealed and disposed of according to local guidance.

Did you know?

  • One in 12 people worldwide are living with either chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • Hepatitis A and E spread through contaminated food and water.
  • Hepatitis B and C are transmitted from blood to blood through transfusions, needle pricks, sexual contact, or vertically from the mother to the baby in the womb; the primary sources being unsterilised injection needles or surgical instruments and/or inadequately screened blood and blood products.

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