Prevalent forms of hepatitis preventable

May 29, 2009 at 9:54 PM

DALLAS, May 29 (UPI) -- The most common forms of hepatitis A, B, and C are preventable, a U.S. liver specialist says.

Dr. William Lee of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas says donated blood is now routinely screened for viruses so hepatitis B and C are no longer contracted through the blood supply, but spread mainly by injection drug use and by sexual transmission.

Hepatitis A can be contracted through food borne transmission or hand-to-mouth exposure to individuals during their infection.

Lee recommends obtaining vaccinations for hepatitis A and B if at high risk of exposure. High-risk groups include people those who eat raw clams, oysters and mussels frequently; work in day-care centers; use illegal drugs or travel to developing countries.

Among steps the doctor recommends people take to avoid contracting hepatitis:

-- Washing hands with soap and water after bowel movements and before handling food.

-- Using latex condoms during sex.

-- Avoiding the sharing of insulin lancets, pens or syringes.

-- Not sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors and nail clippers.

-- Not getting tattoos.

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