Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Hepatitis A is highly endemic in India. With improvement in economic and living conditions of the communities, the age of acquiring hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection is shifting from early childhood to adolescence and young adulthood. A few recent hospital-based studies suggest that the prevalence of anti-HAV antibodies among Indian adults has declined to <70%, possibly due to improved sanitation and urbanization
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests faecal matter—even in microscopic amounts—from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by faeces or stool from an infected person.
Hepatitis A can be spread when:
- An infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and then touches objects or food.
- A caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person.
- Someone engages in certain sexual activities, such as oral-anal contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis A also can be spread through contaminated food or water. This most often occurs in countries where Hepatitis A is common, especially if personal hygiene or sanitary conditions are poor. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking.
Not everyone has symptoms. If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after becoming infected and can include: • Fever • Fatigue • Loss of appetite • Nausea • Vomiting • Abdominal pain • Grey-colored stools • Dark urine • Joint pain • Jaundice Symptoms are more likely to occur in adults than in children. They usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months.
A doctor can determine if a person has Hepatitis A by discussing his or her symptoms and taking a blood sample. To treat Hepatitis A, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, fluids, and medical monitoring. Some people will need to be hospitalized. It can take a few months before people begin to feel better. How serious is Hepatitis A? Most people who get Hepatitis A feel sick for several months, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Sometimes Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in people older than 50 and people with other liver diseases.
Yes. Prevention is possible through public health measures such as clean water supply, improved sanitation and health education.
The other way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine is safe and effective and given as 2 shots, 6 months apart. Both shots are needed for long-term protection. It’s available in market.