Author Topic: Overview of Hepatitis A  (Read 361 times)

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Overview of Hepatitis A
« on: August 07, 2019, 11:19:31 AM »
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is primarily spread when an uninfected (and unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation, poor personal hygiene and oral-anal sex.
Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure), which is often fatal.
The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily by the faecal-oral route; that is when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. In families, this may happen though dirty hands when an infected person prepares food for family members. Waterborne outbreaks, though infrequent, are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water.
The virus can also be transmitted through close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
The incubation period of hepatitis A is usually 14–28 days.
Symptoms of hepatitis A range from mild to severe, and can include,
Loss of appetite
Abdominal discomfort
Dark-coloured urine and
Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.
Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children. The severity of disease and fatal outcomes are higher in older age groups. Infected children under 6 years of age do not usually experience noticeable symptoms, and only 10% develop jaundice. Among older children and adults, infection usually causes more severe symptoms, with jaundice occurring in more than 70% of cases. Hepatitis A sometimes relapses. The person who just recovered falls sick again with another acute episode. This is, however, followed by recovery.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can get infected with hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is widespread (high endemicity), most hepatitis A infections occur during early childhood.
Risk factors include:
•   poor sanitation
•   lack of safe water
•   living in a household with an infected person
•   being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection
•   use of recreational drugs
•   sex between men
•   travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months. Most important is the avoidance of unnecessary medications. Acetaminophen / Paracetamol and medication against vomiting should not be given.
Hospitalization is unnecessary in the absence of acute liver failure. Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhea.
Improved sanitation, food safety and immunization are the most effective ways to combat hepatitis A.
The spread of hepatitis A can be reduced by:
•   adequate supplies of safe drinking water;
•   proper disposal of sewage within communities; and
•   personal hygiene practices such as regular hand-washing before meals and after going to the bathroom.
Several injectable inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are available internationally. All are similar in terms of how well they protect people from the virus and their side-effects. No vaccine is licensed for children younger than 1 year of age.

Source: WHO
« Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 11:22:37 AM by LamiyaJannat »