July 28, 2021
MCHD observes World Hepatitis Day
MOBILE, Ala. — World Hepatitis Day (WHD) is recognized annually on July 28, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925–2011). Dr. Blumberg discovered the Hepatitis B virus in 1967, and two years later he developed the first Hepatitis B vaccine. These achievements culminated in Dr. Blumberg winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976.
Organizations around the world — including the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) — commemorate WHD to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, which impacts more than 354 million people worldwide. WHD creates an opportunity to educate people about the burden of these infections, public health’s efforts to combat viral hepatitis around the world, and actions people can take to prevent these infections.
“Commemorating World Hepatitis Day is vitally important for Mobile County, especially since the Hepatitis A outbreak began in 2019,” said Dr. Sandra Henley, who works in MCHD’s Vaccine Preventable Disease Program under the Communicable Disease Surveillance Division. “Presently, there are 194 outbreak Hepatitis A cases consisting of 59 percent male with an average age of 42 years old.”
This year’s theme is “Hepatitis can’t wait,” conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we cannot wait to act on viral hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, and Hepatitis E — affects millions of people worldwide, causing both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver disease. Viral hepatitis causes more than one million deaths each year. While deaths from tuberculosis and HIV have been declining, deaths from hepatitis are increasing.
Dr. Henley said MCHD provides vaccines for Hepatitis A and B. For more information, contact the MCHD at 251-690-8889.