Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus.
How is Hepatitis A passed from one person to another
Hepatitis A is passed through contact with the poop from an infected person. Basically, if someone with Hepatitis A doesn’t wash their hands after they use the bathroom, and they touch something that you touch (and then put near your mouth), you are at risk for getting the disease. Or, if that same infected person doesn’t wash their hands and they touch food or water that you are going to eat, you are at risk too. The virus can live in the environment for a long time and it is not killed by normal bacteria control processes in food-production.
What happens when you become infected?
The severity of the illness can be mild to severe. Symptoms include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-coloured urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
How serious is it?
Hepatitis A doesn’t cause chronic liver disease, but it can cause a type of acute (short term) liver failure that often is fatal.
Since Hepatitis is a viral infection, there isn’t any treatment that can cure it, only treatments to help with the symptoms. It can take weeks to months for your body to fight the infection. During that time, it is important to stay away from anything else that might be harmful to your liver.
If the infection did not cause liver failure, then it is not usually necessary to hospitalized. But, because of diarrhea and vomiting, you may have to be hospitalized to replace those fluids.
Why should I choose to immunize?
Hepatitis A occurs off and on across the world, but when it does occur, there are usually a lot of cases, people can be re-infected after they get better, and affect communities for a long time (weeks to months).
A single dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine protects almost 100% of people within 1 month. Millions of people have received this vaccine worldwide without any serious side effects.
Here is something interesting about Hepatitis A! Most children (<6 years old) don’t have many symptoms at all! But older children and adults DO have symptoms that can be severe. Once a child has been infected with Hepatitis A, they are at a significantly lower risk of having severe symptoms when they get older.
Huh, that kind of sounds like Mother Nature’s way of giving an immunization to children to protect them when they get older!