Recently there has been outbreaks of hepatitis A infection in many cities when we thought this infection is under control. The recent outbreaks has been in Southern California cities of San Diego and Los Angeles. It’s about time we review this viral infection and the important preventive measures to protect our health.
What is Hepatitis A?
This is a viral liver disease which is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It will cause you to have a mild to severe illness and it is usually acute or of short duration because people will get better after few weeks even without treatment.
How is hepatitis A spread?
This disease is mainly spread through the faecal-oral route; when an uninfected person ingests food or drink that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is spread through food, water, poor hygiene and poor sanitation which could be from lack of hand washing.
In some cases the patient may not show any symptoms, common ones are
- Dark yellow urine and skin i.e. jaundice
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of vaccination with Hepatitis A vaccine
- Travel to countries with poor sanitation and contaminated water
- Sex with an infected person Hepatitis A
- Caring and living in the same house with infected person
Hepatitis A infection may lead to liver failure especially in people over 50 years old or people with other liver diseases.
Doctors will check the symptoms and a blood test. The blood test will show antibodies to the hepatitis A virus specific immunoglobulin G (IgM).
There is no specific treatment but the following are recommended:
- Get enough rest
- Drink plenty of fluid to replace that lost from diarrhea and vomiting
- Eat healthy food
- Avoid alcohol because of the effect on the liver
- Your doctor may recommend pain medicine
Prevention of Hepatitis A:
- Immunization with vaccine, 2 shots of Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for long-term protection of 5 to 8 years.
- Food safety with improved sanitation
- Safe clean drinking water
- Proper disposal of sewage
- Personal hygiene practice including proper hand-washing
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