Hepatitis A Is Also Deadly: How to Prevent It
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by hepatitis A virus.
The hepatitis A virus is transmitted through ingestion of food or water contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. Unlike Hepatitis B and C, it may not cause chronic liver disease, but it can cause an acute liver failure, which is often fatal.
The hepatitis A virus is one of the commonest causes of food-borne diseases. The virus can withstand many food processes aimed at eliminating food germs. Hepatitis A affects people worldwide with varying endemicity, depending on the hygiene practices in the regions.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Once an individual contracts the virus, it incubates for about 14-50 days, after which it produces symptoms: These symptoms may range from mild to severe and include:
- Joint pains
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Jaundice (yellowness of the skin and the white of eyes)
- Symptoms are typically more severe in adults than children, and adults are more likely to die from hepatitis A than children.
Children and infants who get infected continue to shed it up to six months after exposure to the virus, thereby infecting others.
Almost everyone who gets infected and recovers from hepatitis A develops a life-long immunity. However, a few persons may die from acute liver failure complicating the disease.
Risk Factors of Hepatitis A
Who is at risk of Hepatitis A?
- Anyone who has not been vaccinated against hepatitis A
- Anyone who has not previously been infected with the virus.
- Poor sanitation
- Lack of safe water
- Having an infected person as a close contact
- Traveling to areas that have high endemicity for hepatitis A
How is Hepatitis A treated?
Treatment for hepatitis A is largely supportive and mainly fluids to replace water lost from the body through vomiting and diarrhea.
In addition, drugs that may cause further damage to the liver, such as paracetamol, should be avoided in an individual with hepatitis A disease.
Prevention of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A virus is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with faces of an infected person. Therefore, the following will help you reduce your risk of getting infected:
- Get vaccinated – The injectable inactivated vaccine confers immunity against the virus for a long period.
- Drink boiled or treated water
- Eat well-cooked foods
- Wash your fruits and vegetables properly before eating them.
- Dispose of your sewage properly
- Practice good personal hygiene, such as handwashing.
- Ensure an adequate supply of safe water