Hepatitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by various factors, including toxins (such as alcohol), medicines, or infection. Infectious hepatitis is caused primarily by the hepatitis A, B, C and E viruses. Hepatitis can have serious consequences for a patient's health.
The healthcare challenge
- Hepatitis A is present throughout the world, particularly in countries with poor socio-economic conditions. It is benign and does not cause chronic liver disease. It is rarely fatal but it may cause debilitating symptoms and fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure).
- Hepatitis B is the one of the most widespread sexually transmitted diseases and has the highest global mortality rate. According to WHO:
- An estimated 257 million people are living with a chronic infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus;
- In 2015, Hepatitis B infection resulted in over 887,000 deaths, in particular due to cirrhosis and liver cancer;
- The Western Pacific and African regions have the highest prevalence of Hepatitis B, where 6.2% and 6.1% respectively of the adult population is infected.
- Hepatitis C can cause both acute and chronic infection that ranges in severity, from mild to serious. It is a major cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to WHO:
- 71 million people are estimated to have a chronic hepatitis C infection;
- Approximately 399,000 people die each year from hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis E may be transmitted via the fecal-oral route through contaminated water in limited-resource countries, but also through the ingestion of undercooked meat. According to the WHO, an estimated one-third of the global population has been exposed to Hepatitis E infection:
- Around 20 million cases are reported annually, including 3.3 million acute cases;
- Nearly 57,000 deaths are reported each year.
The health sector’s global strategy to combat viral hepatitis for the period 2016-2021, which is being led by the WHO, has set as its goal the elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. To reach this target, the WHO is implementing the following “90-90-65” approach:
- A 90% reduction in new cases of chronic viral Hepatitis B and C infection;
- 90% of viral Hepatitis B and C diagnosed;
- A 65% reduction in mortality due to the B and C viruses.
The role of in vitro diagnostics
Biological tests play an essential role in the diagnosis of hepatitis. They are used to elucidate the signs of hepatitis infection (an elevation in hepatic enzymes in the blood). They also include virological tests, such as testing for viral antigens and/or antibodies, and the detection of viral load using molecular biology techniques. They enable:
- the confirmation of diagnosis of viral hepatitis;
- an indication, in some cases, of the condition’s medium-term development;
- treatment monitoring.
bioMérieux offers a comprehensive range of products adapted to the the routine diagnosis and confirmation of hepatitis A, B and C.