Hepatitis A is an acute liver disease that occurs following infection with a virus commonly referred to as the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is common in the following developing world where infections are acquired during early childhood and are usually asymptomatic or mild. The incubation period for the virus is 15-50 days (average 28 days). Individuals are infectious two weeks before the onset of Jaundice and then infectivity begins to fall. Most individuals will remain infectious for 1-2 weeks following the onset of Jaundice. However, prolonged excretion of the virus in stools has been documented, resulting in longer periods of infectivity.
How is the Disease transmitted?
Person to person spread is the most common method of transmission via faecal -oral route. Transmission via blood products has also been described but is infrequent. Other ways include exposure to contaminated water, ice, shellfish harvested from sewage – contaminated water, fruits, vegetables or other foods eaten uncooked that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling. The Hepatitis A virus can live outside the body for months even under high levels of environmental stress but is activated by boiling at 85 degrees celcius for 1 minute and on exposure to household bleach.
Signs and Symptoms
Fever, Fatigue, Abdominal pains, Dark urine, Loss of appetite, Clay-coloured bowel movements, Nausea, Joint pain, Vomiting, Jaundice
High risk areas?
Hepatitis A occurs worldwide but major geographic differences exist in endemicity. The degree of endemicity is closely related to hygenic and sanitary conditions and other indicators of the level of development. Areas of high endemicity are usually found in some parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America where poor socio-economic conditions allow the virus to spread. Some parts of Eastern Europe and South America have transitional or intermediate endemicity and North America and Western Europe have low or very low endemicity.
Preventing Hepatitis A
Avoid risky foods and beverages by boiling or cooking food and beverages, avoid drinking beverages of unkown purity, avoid eating uncooked shellfish, and uncooked fruits or vegetables that are not peeled or prepared by yourself and also getting vaccinated.Leave a reply →