Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, which is caused by viruses, medications and toxic agents. Currently, at least five (5) forms of viral hepatitis are recognized which in this article we will learn about Hepatitis A, how it spreads and how to prevent infection.
How hepatitis spreads
Hepatitis A (HAV) is spread primarily by oral contact with feces of an infected person (oral-fecal contact), including contaminated food or water sources, and any sexual contact, especially oral-anal sex.
Hepatitis A easily spreads among young children in kindergartens and day cares as many cannot wash their own hands and are in diapers and since children normally have no symptoms, no one may know that they might be infected.
On rare occasions hepatitis A has been spread through blood transfusion, using blood products or sharing personal tools and equipments specially sharing needles or other injecting equipment which is contaminated with hepatitis A infected blood.
Transmission by blood rarely happens because the virus cannot stay present for long. As it enters the blood onset of infection occurs.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Since hepatitis A is an acute disease, it produces an initial acute phase with few symptoms. If any symptom is realized, they tend to be similar to flu like symptoms:
- muscle or joint aches
- mild fever
- slight abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
The acute phases and their symptoms are rarely serious or fatal, but occasionally a rapidly progressing form may lead to death.
Gradually the conditions worsen and theses symptoms are experienced:
- jaundice (yellowed skin, mucous membranes and eye-whites)
- light colored stools that may contain pus
- dark urine
The types of hepatitis are then distinguished by the course of the hepatitis and the varied outcome after the acute phase.
To prevent hepatitis A, always remember to the following:
- -Do not get involved in a sexual intercourse.
Commit to mutual monogamy (having sex with only one uninfected partner).
Cut up non lubricated latex condoms or use of any moisture barriers, for example household plastic wrap or dams (square piece of latex) can help reduce the risk of transmitting Hepatitis A virus during oral-anal sex.
- Avoid sharing drug-injection equipment especially drug needles.
- Avoid contaminated water or food sources. Only eat freshly prepared foods. drink commercially bottled or well boiled water, that too in places where water supply and sanitation are healthy and don’t eat non-peeled raw vegetables or fruits unless cleaned properly.
- Do practice good personal hygiene, especially washing hands after using the toilet or changing any diapers or sanitary pads.
- To inactivate hepatitis A virus, heat the food at temperatures above 85 degrees Celsius for 1 minute or disinfect the surfaces with a 1:100 dilution of bleach in tap water (1 part bleach for every 100 parts of water).
- It is very important for you to take a ‘hepatitis A vaccination’ before you travel to areas like Eastern Europe, Mexico, and other developing countries.