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Hepatitis A

​Hepatitis is a general term meaning inflammation of the liver. Although there are many forms of hepatitis, it is most commonly caused by the viruses: hepatitis A, B, C, D and/or E. In BC, the most common types of hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A, B and C.

Learn about the causes, treatments and prevention of hepatitis A.

 

Get More Information On:

 

 

Protect Yourself

 

  • Get vaccinated
  • Be aware when you travel

  • Ensure proper hygiene and take precautions with food and drink
  • Avoid peeled fruit and raw vegetables, salads, dairy products with unpasteurized milk, and raw or undercooked meat, fish and shellfish and any food sold by street vendors.
  • Swim only in chlorinated pools
  • Do not share food, drinks or cigarettes

Hepatitis A is a preventable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which can last from a few weeks to several months. It does not lead to chronic infection.

 

After the hepatitis A virus enters your body, it can take from 15 to 50 days before you feel sick. The symptoms can be so mild that people may not be aware they have been infected with hepatitis A. Other people get sick with some of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • A tired feeling (like you have the flu)
  • Vomiting
  • Clay-coloured bowel movements
  • A sore feeling in the upper-right stomach area
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyeballs

The symptoms can last from 1 - 2 weeks to several months. Most people recover completely and then are immune to re-infection. Death can occur, but is rare. The symptoms can be more severe in people who already have hepatitis C.

 
The hepatitis A virus is found in the bowel movements of an infected person. Even if a person does not feel ill, they are still able to spread the hepatitis A virus to others. 

Hepatitis A can be caught by:


Person-to-person contact :

  • Eating food that has been touched by contaminated hands
  • People who go to the bathroom and then don't wash their hands properly can pass the virus to others through food preparation or other hand/mouth contacts
  • When a parent or caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
  • Sexual activities where feces may enter the mouth
  • Through the use of contaminated illicit drugs

Contaminated food or water: 

  • Eating raw or under-cooked shellfish such as crabs, clams, oysters or mussels that have been exposed to contaminated sewage
  • Eating contaminated fruits or vegetables
  • Drinking water or ice contaminated with the virus 
  • People traveling to areas of developing countries where hepatitis A is common and there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene, are more likely to come into contact with contaminated food and water 
 

In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals completely with no lasting damage. Older adults and people with other medical conditions may take longer to recover and can have a more serious course of the disease.

 

A blood test is necessary to diagnose hepatitis A.

 

If you have hepatitis A:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • If you feel sick to your stomach or have a poor appetite, it might help to eat smaller meals more often
  • Avoid alcohol, drinking alcohol when you are ill may further inflame your liver
  • Avoid any kind of hard work or exercise

Your family doctor can give you specific directions or medical treatment that you need.

 

If you think that you have hepatitis A, contact your local Health Unit or your family doctor for further information.

 

Protect yourself against hepatitis A by always washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before preparing meals, and before eating. 


Protect Yourself:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Be aware when you travel

  • Ensure proper hygiene and take precautions with food and drink
  • Avoid peeled fruit and raw vegetables, salads, dairy products with unpasteurized milk, and raw or undercooked meat, fish and shellfish and any food sold by street vendors.
  • Swim only in chlorinated pools
  • Do not share food, drinks or cigarettes

Vaccines 

vaccine is available which protects people against hepatitis A. It is given as a series of two shots given at least six months apart. The vaccine provides excellent protection against hepatitis A in all age groups except infants less than six months of age. For infant immunization information refer to Infant Immunization.

 
SOURCE: Hepatitis A ( )
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