How Hepatitis Is Spread
Hepatitis A: About 20,000 people in the U.S. contract hepatitis A each year. The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of the infected person. It is spread through contaminated food or water or by certain types of sexual contact.
Children who get hepatitis A often don’t have symptoms, so they can have the virus and not know it. However, they can still spread it easily. Fortunately, children are now routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A.
Most people who get hepatitis A recover completely within two weeks to six months and don’t have any liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death in older adults or people with underlying liver disease.
Hepatitis B: Every year, about 40,000 people in the U.S. become infected with hepatitis B. Acute hepatitis lasts from a few weeks to several months. Many infected people are able to clear the virus and remain virus-free after the acute stage. However, for others, the virus remains in the body, and they develop chronic hepatitis B infection, which is a serious, lifelong condition. About 1.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B. Of these, 15% to 25% will develop more serious health problems, such as liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer, and some people die as a result of hepatitis B-related disease.
Is The Hep A Vaccine Safe For Everyone
The Havrix and Vaqta vaccines are considered safe for people over the age of one. The Twinrix is approved for anyone over age 18.
The vaccine doesnt contain a live virus, so its safe if you have a compromised immune system. You can also get the vaccine during pregnancy.
It may not be safe if youve had a serious allergic reaction to a previous hepatitis A vaccine.
If youre feeling sick, ask your doctor if you should wait until you recover to get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about your medical history and whether the hepatitis A vaccine is right for you.
If you ever had hepatitis A, youve got lifelong protection against the virus. You dont need a vaccine.
Think about getting the vaccine if youre at increased risk of contracting the hepatitis virus.
You may be at-risk if you:
- travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
- travel to areas that have poor sanitation or a lack of safe drinking water
- are a laboratory worker who may come in contact with the virus
- may have direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- are a man who has sex with men
- use drugs
100 percent of people who get vaccinated develop protective antibodies within a month of a single dose.
If you miss your chance, you can still get vaccinated within two weeks of having been exposed to the virus.
Children between 6 months and 1 year can get the vaccine if theyre at high risk of hepatitis A. Because the immune response may not be adequate at that age, the child can get the vaccine again after age one.
Postexposure Prophylaxis For Hepatitis A
What are the current CDC guidelines for postexposure protection against hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A vaccine should be administered as soon as possible, within 2 weeks of exposure, to all unvaccinated people aged 12 months who have recently been exposed to hepatitis A virus . In addition to hepatitis A vaccine, co-administration of GamaSTAN S/D immune globulin is recommended under certain circumstances according to age and health status of the exposed person.
Should patrons of an establishment implicated in an outbreak of hepatitis A receive postexposure prophylaxis ?
Because common-source transmission to patrons is unlikely, PEP administration to patrons is typically not indicated. However, PEP may be considered for those patrons potentially exposed to a symptomatic food handler if a) the food handler directly handled uncooked or cooked foods without gloves AND had diarrhea or poor hygienic practices and b) the patron can be identified and treated within 2 weeks of exposure, though the risk to these patrons still remains low .
In settings in which repeated exposures to hepatitis A virus might have occurred , consideration of PEP use is warranted. PEP in this scenario should generally consist of vaccination for all age groups, though immune globulin may be considered for exposed people who are immunocompromised or have chronic liver disease.
What should be done when a case of hepatitis A is found in a setting providing services to children or adults ?
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How You Can Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is most widespread in parts of the world where standards of sanitation and food hygiene are generally poor, such as parts of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, the Middle East, and Central and South America.
You can get the infection from:
- eating food prepared by someone with the infection who has not washed their hands properly or washed them in water contaminated with sewage
- drinking contaminated water, including ice cubes
- eating raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated water
- close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
- less commonly, having sex with someone with hepatitis A or injecting drugs using contaminated equipment
Someone with hepatitis A is most infectious from around 2 weeks before symptoms appear until about a week after symptoms first develop.
Hepatitis B Vaccine On The Nhs
A hepatitis B-containing vaccine is provided for all babies born in the UK on or after 1 August 2017. This is given as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine.
Hospitals, GP surgeries and sexual health or GUM clinics usually provide the hepatitis B vaccination free of charge for anyone at risk of infection.
GPs are not obliged to provide the hepatitis B vaccine on the NHS if you’re not thought to be at risk.
GPs may charge for the hepatitis B vaccine if you want it as a travel vaccine, or they may refer you to a travel clinic for a private vaccination. The current cost of the vaccine is around £50 a dose.
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Twinrix: The Vaccine For Hepatitis A And B
Both hepatitis A and B are identified by obtaining a blood sample, which you submit to a laboratory test. This test decides whether you have antibodies in the blood unique to those viruses. If the result is positive, you have been subjected to either hepatitis A or B.
To check whether anyone has hepatitis B, the test will see whether the individual has certain hepatitis B antigen levels.
What Causes Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus causes this type of hepatitis and spreads through contact with an infected persons stool. Contact can occur by
- eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
- drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
- placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected persons stool
- having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
You cannot get hepatitis A from
- being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person
- sitting next to an infected person
- hugging an infected person
A baby cannot get hepatitis A from breast milk.4
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The Hepatitis A Vaccine
Thanks to medical breakthroughs and the subsequent vaccine, cases of Hepatitis A in the United States have dropped by 95 percent since the 1980s.
Children are regularly vaccinated between their first and second birthdays . Older children and adolescents can get vaccinated after 23 months.
Adults not vaccinated and who want to be protected against the virus can get the vaccine if they choose. Its important to note that Hepatitis A is one of the most common vaccine-preventable infections acquired during travel. Risk is higher for travelers going to rural areas, doing backcountry treks or eating and drinking in areas with poor sanitation. At least one vaccination is recommended prior to travel, but a second, administered 612 months after the first, is best for long-term protection.
How Can You Avoid Catching Hepatitis A Virus When Traveling
Anyone traveling to countries where hepatitis A virus infections are common should avoid the following:
- Ice and unbottled water
- Uncooked or unpeeled vegetables and fruit
- Food from street vendors
Vaccination at least 2 weeks before travel is generally also recommended. Additional travel information is available in the CDC travel publication, Yellow Book.
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Who Gets Hepatitis A
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but certain persons are at increased risk of infection, including:
- Children and adults living in areas with increased rates of hepatitis
- Persons traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting and non-injecting drug users
- Sexual contacts of infected persons
- Household contacts of infected persons
Hepatitis A Vaccine And International Travel
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine before traveling internationally?
All unvaccinated people, along with those who have never had hepatitis A, should be vaccinated before traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common. Travelers to urban areas, resorts, and luxury hotels in countries where hepatitis A is common are still at risk. International travelers have been infected, even though they regularly washed their hands and were careful about what they drank and ate. Those who are too young or cant get vaccinated because of a previous, life-threatening reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine or vaccine component should receive immune globulin. Travelers to other countries where hepatitis A does not commonly occur are not recommended to receive hepatitis A vaccine before travel.
How soon before travel should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?
You should get the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine as soon as you plan international travel to a country where hepatitis A is common. The vaccine will provide some protection even if you get vaccinated closer to departure. For older adults , people who are immunocompromised, and people with chronic liver disease or other chronic medical conditions the health-care provider may consider, based on several factors, giving an injection of immune globulin at the same time in different limbs.
What should I do if I am traveling internationally but cannot receive hepatitis A vaccine?
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Should I Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for:
- Travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
- Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use injection and non-injection drugs
- People with chronic liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People who are teated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who work with hepatitis A infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
- People who are experiencing homelessness
- People age 40 and older at increased risk for hepatitis A infection, or who are at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection who also have other risk factors
- People age 19 or older at increased risk for hepatitis A infection, or who are at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection who also have other risk factors
Health care providers recommend that all children receive a hepatitis A vaccination at around 1 year of age, but many adults have never received the vaccine because it only became available in 1995.
Health care personnel and patients with the following conditions should discuss the hepatitis A vaccination with their health care provider: pregnancy, immunocompromising conditions, HIV infection, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic alcoholism, asplenia, kidney failure.
You should NOT get the hepatitis A vaccination or you should wait, if you:
Treatment And Manifestation Of Hepatitis A And B
Hepatitis A has an incubation time of two to six weeks. Hepatitis B only manifests after two to six months. Often patients with hepatitis A and B infection have moderate to no signs of the infection.
In persons who show symptoms, they will get flu-like symptoms, which will occur about three to ten days before symptoms of the liver develop.
Thereafter, the urine will darken, and jaundice may grow. With jaundice, the skin and the whites of a person’s eyes have a yellow hue. The inflamed liver cannot conduct its normal biochemical processes, so a material called bilirubin increases in the body.
Typically, you tend to feel healthy when you have jaundice, even though you keep looking worse.
In hepatitis A the jaundice stage only lasts for about one week. After that, you’ll continue to heal and usually feel like your usual self within a month. You are immune for life after recovering from hepatitis A.
In hepatitis B, the jaundice stage is about two weeks.
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What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Hepatitis A Immunisation
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time theyre not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of hepatitis A vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.
Common side effects of hepatitis A vaccines include:
- pain where the needle went in.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
Children who become infected with hepatitis A before age 6 usually have no symptoms or mild illness, and if they do become ill, they usually get better in under 2 months. Adults and older children who become infected with hepatitis A can have no symptoms or very mild illness , but most develop jaundice and other symptoms . Mild illness can resolve in 1-2 weeks, but more severe illness can last for months. Common symptoms of HAV infection include:
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Who Should Get Immunised Against Hepatitis A
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against hepatitis A can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
Hepatitis A immunisation is recommended for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia, at 18 months and 4 years for free under the National Immunisation Program
- People who regularly provide care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia
- children at least 12 months old and adults who are travelling to areas where hepatitis A is common
- people who live or work with rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- people who work in early childhood education and care
- people with developmental disabilities, and their carers
- plumbers and sewage workers
Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your hepatitis A immunisation.
Who Is At Risk For Infection
Anyone who is not immune to hepatitis A can get hepatitis A infection. Food-borne outbreaks occur sporadically throughout the USA. Certain groups of people do have a higher risk of developing HAV infection and should be vaccinated:
- Persons experiencing homelessness
- People who eat raw or under-cooked shellfish
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How Do You Catch Hepatitis A Virus
People infected with hepatitis A virus excrete the virus in their stools. You can catch the virus in a number of ways:
- Babies with hepatitis A virus will have diapers that are contaminated with the virus. Adults changing these diapers are likely to get infected if they don’t carefully wash their hands with soap and water after handling the diaper.
- Because hepatitis A virus is present in the stools of people who are infected, countries or cities with low standards for the handling and disposal of sewage have an enormous problem with hepatitis A virus infections. The problem is that the virus quickly enters the water supply and contaminates anything that comes in contact with the water, including food. It is probably not unrealistic to think about many developing countries as having a thin layer of hepatitis A virus that covers anything that you could put into your mouth.
- People working in the food industry who are infected and do not exercise appropriate hand washing techniques between using the restroom and handling food have also been known to spread the infection.
Unfortunately, people infected with hepatitis A can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before they have symptoms, so they may be infecting others without even knowing they have hepatitis A themselves.
My Partner Has Been Diagnosed With Hepatitis B Can Transmission Be Prevented By Vaccination
A hepatitis B diagnosis can be scary and confusing for both you and your loved ones, especially if you are unfamiliar with the virus. Hepatitis B is known to be sexually transmitted, and you may wonder how you can continue your relationship with someone who has been infected. The good news is that hepatitis B is vaccine preventable. This means that after you complete the vaccine series, you cannot contract hepatitis B through any modes of transmission you are protected for life!
However, it is important to remember that the vaccine willonly work if a person has not been previously infected. Therefore, it is necessary to take certain steps after your partners diagnosis to protect yourself from becoming infected.
The first step is to visit the doctor and get tested, even if you think that you do not have it. Since hepatitis B often has no symptoms for decades, testing is the only way to know your status. The doctor should perform the Hepatitis B Panel test a simple blood draw that shows hepatitis B surface antigen , hepatitis B surface antibody , and hepatitis B core antibody total . Looking at these three blood test results together will show if you have a current infection, have recovered from a past infection, or if you need to be protected through vaccination. Once you receive your results, this chart can help you understand what they mean.
Preventing Transmission through Vaccines:
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