Before the dawn of 17th June 2017, my family had celebrated enthusiastically as my indisposed mother gradually recovered from her sickness. We were all glad at her lively responses as she bantered along with us, giggling as the night grew darker. However, as dawn broke in its darkly light the next day, the situation of things was no longer the same as my mother’s eyes refused to blink and there was no pulse; sadly, her body was wrapped with extreme coldness. She was still, and painfully the message was clear—my mother just bade farewell to this cosmos.
Certainly, many of you might wonder why we celebrated enthusiastically the previous night, and then as morning came, we were all enveloped with sadness. Truly, it is depressing to tell you that the mother had spent the last six months of her years in the excruciating hands of this serial killing disease—hepatitis B. She had suffered from its dangerous stings which culminated in her death. Hence, from my lacerated heart, I am challenged to inform the readers about this unknown but deadly infection.
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My research on this deadly infection widened as I read some outright articles on it, simultaneously checking through the records of the World Health Organization (WHO). It was then I stumbled on the fact that hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and propels both the acute and chronic diseases. Withal, I also realized that it’s a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is a major global health problem, and thus finds its roots in any accustomed places, most especially homes in Africa where they are ignorant about this infection. It is believed that this infectious virus leads to chronic infection which brings people at high risk of death from cirrhosis to liver cancer or liver failure in the past, and the rate of its damage is also possible in the future.
Research also unveiled that chronic hepatitis B increased the risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis; a condition that permanently damages the liver. So, if I’ve not misconstrued information from my personal findings, it would be right to posit that anyone infected with hepatitis B could recover fully if they are early diagnosed.
Moreover, as I couldn’t discover how my mother got this infection, I then inquired from some medical practitioners who enlightened me on some causes of hepatitis B. One of the most prevalent causes is blood transfusion from mother to child at birth, which is called perinatal transmission, or horizontal transmission i.e. exposure to infected blood, especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first 5 years of existence. It should be noted that this infection is passed from persons to persons through blood, semen or other body fluids.
Again, I also understood that one could be positive about this virus through infected needles. It is also revealed that exposure to infected blood and body fluids, such as saliva, menstrual, vaginal, and seminal fluids can cause hepatitis B. I was shocked as well when I heard that one could be infected with hepatitis B through sexual intercourse.
As I ruminated on how my mother could have got infected, I was pained as well that my family had been ignorant about this infection. Only if we knew, maybe hepatitis B might have never come her way. Today, hepatitis B killer disease is becoming alarmingly, as the World Health Organization recorded that in 2015, 257 million people lived with chronic hepatitis B infection and that in that same year, hepatitis B resulted in an estimated 887 000 deaths, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (i.e. primary liver cancer). Hence, dear readers, hepatitis B is deadly as I’ve witnessed that from my mother’s travails.
Now, it’s the responsibility of everyone to prevent themselves from this deadly infection. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, loss of appetite, yellow skin, among others. Hepatitis B destroys lives, don’t wait before you end up on the other side like my mother. Prevention is better than cure!
Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun writes from the University Of Ibadan, UI, Ibadan, Oyo state capital.