How Is Hepatitis A Infection Prevented
- The hepatitis A vaccine offers excellent protection against HAV. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. Vaccination consists of 2 doses of vaccine spaced 6-12 months apart. Protection starts 1-2 weeks after the first dose of vaccine, and lasts for 20 years to life after 2 doses.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children should receive hepatitis A vaccine starting at 1 year of age .
- The CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccine for all persons traveling to countries where HAV is common . For infants that will be traveling internationally, an early dose of Hepatitis A vaccine can be given at age 6-11 months.
- People who have hepatitis A infection become immune to HAV for the rest of their lives once they recover. They cannot get hepatitis A twice.
- The blood test for immunity to hepatitis A is called the Hepatitis A Total Antibody test. People who have had hepatitis A and those who have received hepatitis A vaccine show positive antibodies to hepatitis A on this test for the rest of their life.
- Good personal hygiene and proper sanitation help prevent the spread of the HAV virus. Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing, serving, or eating food.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the hepatitis A virus
After Exposure to HAV
Causes Of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus. The virus can survive for several hours outside the body but persists on the hands and in food for even longer. It is resistant to heating and freezing.
The virus is spread when it enters the mouth, which can happen when hands, foods or other items are contaminated with the faeces of a person with hepatitis A. The disease can also be spread sexually by oral or anal contact.
A person with hepatitis A is infectious from 2 weeks before they show symptoms to one week after they become jaundiced .
If an infected person has no jaundice, they may pass on the virus until 2 weeks after they first have symptoms . Caution is advised beyond this period as the virus can be shed in stools for longer periods.
How Is It Tested For And Diagnosed
After you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, they may order a blood test to check for the presence of a viral or bacterial infection. A blood test will reveal the presence of the hepatitis A virus.
Some people have only a few symptoms and no signs of jaundice. Without visible signs of jaundice, its hard to diagnose any form of hepatitis through a physical examination. When symptoms are minimal, hepatitis A can remain undiagnosed. Complications due to a lack of diagnosis are rare.
Also Check: Long Term Effects Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C: How Does It Spread
It spreads through infected blood. In the U.S., sharing needles or other items used to inject drugs is the most common cause of infection. Getting a tattoo or body piercing with an infected needle is another means of exposure. A mother may pass the virus to their child at birth. In rare cases, unprotected sex spreads hepatitis C, but the risk appears small. Having multiple sex partners, HIV, or rough sex seems to raise risk for spreading hepatitis C.
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
Don’t Miss: Do I Have Hepatitis C
How Is Hepatitis A Virus Spread
Hepatitis A virus is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. Transmission typically occurs when someone with hepatitis A infection goes to the bathroom and does not wash their hands well afterwards so that tiny particles of stool containing the virus contaminate objects, food, or drinks and then can be spread to others. For this reason, the virus can spread in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed.
Most infections in the United States result from contact with a household member or sex partner who has hepatitis A. Hepatitis A virus can also be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person.
How Do I Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is spread through close contact with an infected person, or by eating hepatitis A contaminated food or drinking water. Because the virus is found in the stool of infected people, eating food prepared by an infected person, who does not wash his/her hands properly after using the washroom, is one way of getting the virus.
Eating raw or undercooked seafood and shellfish from water polluted with sewage, or eating salad greens that are rinsed in contaminated water are other ways of becoming infected. Sharing drug-use equipment, or having sexual contact with an infected person can also give you hepatitis A.
While often considered to be a travellers disease, hepatitis A can be contracted in Canada. Hepatitis A outbreaks or scares in Canada are most often associated with infected food handlers in restaurants and grocery stores or with contaminated produce.
Don’t Miss: Can Hepatitis C Be Treated
Side Effects Of Immunisation Against Hepatitis A
Immunisations against hepatitis A are effective and safe. All medications can have side effects.
For most people, the chance of a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you catch the disease.
Common side effects from the hepatitis A vaccine include:
- localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- low-grade temperature
How Many People Have Hepatitis A
Since the release of the first vaccine in 1995, the rate of new HAV infections in the United States declined by more than 95% from 1996 to 2011. From 2012 through 2016, the number of hepatitis A cases fluctuated because large foodborne outbreaks occurred. From August 2016 through August 2020, 33 states reported hepatitis A outbreaks spread through person-to-person contact resulting in over 33,000 infections with high numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.
Globally, HAV infection is most common in countries with poor sanitary conditions and hygienic practices and transitional economies according to the World Health Organization .
Don’t Miss: Hepatitis C Antibody Non Reactive Meaning
What Causes Hepatitis A And How Is It Contracted
People develop hepatitis A infection after contracting HAV. This virus is typically transmitted by ingesting food or liquid contaminated with fecal matter that contains the virus. Once transmitted, the virus spreads through the bloodstream to the liver, where it causes inflammation and swelling.
In addition to transmission from eating food or drinking water containing HAV, the virus can also be spread by close personal contact with an infected person. HAV is contagious, and a person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others living in the same household.
You can contract hepatitis A by:
- eating food prepared by someone with the hepatitis A virus
- eating food handled by preparers who dont follow strict hand-washing routines before touching food that you eat
- eating sewage-contaminated raw shellfish
- not using condoms when having sex with someone who has the hepatitis A virus
- drinking polluted water
- coming in contact with hepatitis A-infected fecal matter
If you contract the virus, you will be contagious two weeks before symptoms even appear. The contagious period will end about one week after symptoms appear.
Treatment: Chronic Hepatitis B
The goal of treating chronic hepatitis B is to control the virus and keep it from damaging the liver. This begins with regular monitoring for signs of liver disease. Antiviral medications may help, but not everyone can take them or needs to be on medication. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of antiviral therapy with your doctor.
You May Like: Hepatitis B And Hpv Vaccine Together
Who Is Likely To Be Affected By Hepatitis A
Certain people are more at risk than others for hepatitis A. These include:
- People who use recreational drugs, both injected and non-injected types.
- Men who have sex with men.
- People who have close contact with someone who already is infected.
- People who have close contact with someone adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common, or people who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.
- People who work with non-human primates.
- People who have clotting factor issues, including hemophilia.
- People who work in child care, or children who are in childcare.
Who Should Be Tested For Hepatitis
Testing is important for anyone with the risk factors we’ve mentioned, particularly injected drug users and people who have had multiple sex partners. Health advocates are also urging people of Asian heritage to get tested. Stanford University’s Asian Liver Center estimates that 1 in 10 Asians living in the U.S. has chronic hepatitis B. Many of them have probably had the virus since birth.
Also, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that health care providers offer a one-time hepatitis C screening for anyone born between 1945 and 1965.
You May Like: How Soon Can You Detect Hepatitis C
Treatments For Hepatitis A
There’s currently no cure for hepatitis A. But it usually gets better on its own within a couple of months. You can usually look after yourself at home.
While you’re ill, it’s a good idea to:
- get plenty of rest
- take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, for any aches and pains ask your GP for advice about this, as you may need to take lower doses than normal or avoid certain medications until you have recovered
- maintain a cool, well-ventilated environment, wear loose clothing and avoid hot baths or showers to reduce any itching
- eat small, light meals to help reduce nausea and vomiting
- avoid alcohol to reduce the strain on your liver
- stay off work or school and avoid having sex until at least a week after your jaundice or other symptoms started
- practise good hygiene, such as washing your hands with soap and water regularly
Speak to your GP if your symptoms are particularly troublesome or have not started to improve within a couple of months.
They can prescribe medications to help with itchiness, nausea or vomiting, if necessary.
For most people, hepatitis A gets better within 2 months and there are no long-term effects.
Once it passes, you normally develop life-long immunity against the virus.
In around 1 in every 7 people with the infection, the symptoms may come and go for up to 6 months before eventually disappearing.
Life-threatening complications such as liver failure are rare, affecting less than 1 in every 250 people with hepatitis A.
Managing Fever After Immunisation
Common side effects following immunisation are usually mild and temporary . Specific treatment is not usually required.There are a number of treatment options that can reduce the side effects of the vaccine including:
- Drinking extra fluids to drink and not overdressing if there is a fever.
- Although routine use of paracetamol after vaccination is not recommended, if fever is present, paracetamol can be taken check the label for the correct dose or speak with your pharmacist .
Don’t Miss: How Often Should You Be Tested For Hepatitis C
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
The symptoms of hepatitis A may include an abrupt onset of fever, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice . The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications. Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children. Infants and young children tend to have very mild symptoms and are less likely to develop jaundice than are older children and adults. Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.
Hepatitis C: Who Is At Risk
People who have injected illegal drugs at any time, even one time, many years ago, could be walking around with chronic hepatitis C. Because there are often no symptoms, many former drug users may not realize they have the infection. People who received a blood transfusion before 1992 also have a higher risk. Before that year, donated blood was not screened for the hepatitis C virus.
Don’t Miss: Hepatitis B Surface Antibody Titer
Can You Get Hepatitis B Again
Most adults will clear the virus after the initial infection and recover completely. After clearing the infection, your body will produce antibodies against hepatitis B. This will protect you from getting the infection again. A blood test can show if you have these protective antibodies.
Clearing the virus can take a long time. It is also possible to develop a chronic infection, which can eventually cause cirrhosis,liver failure, or liver cancer. The best option for avoiding hepatitis B is vaccination.
Who Is At Risk
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can get infected with the hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is widespread , most hepatitis A infections occur during early childhood. Risk factors include:
- poor sanitation
- living in a household with an infected person
- being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection
- use of recreational drugs
- travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Have Hepatitis A
Common Examples Of How Hepatitis A Is Spread
The hepatitis A virus usually spreads from person to person contact or from contaminated food or water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are common examples:
- When an infected person touches objects or food after using the toilet without proper handwashing
- When changing the diaper of someone infected but not washing hands afterward
- During some sexual practices, such as oral-anal contact
Immunisation Against Hepatitis A
Immunisation is the best protection against hepatitis A infection and is recommended for people in high-risk groups, and for unvaccinated people who have been in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
Immunisation against hepatitis A includes a course of injections over a 6 to 12-month period. Healthy people 12 months of age and over receive 2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine, or 3 doses if the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are given as a combination.
You can complete any missed vaccine doses, even if the recommended time frame has passed. You do not need to start the vaccine course again.
If you are in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A be sure to have the hepatitis A vaccine if you have not already completed a vaccine course.
Babies under 12 months of age and people who have a weakened immune system who are also in close contact with a person with hepatitis A can have an injection of normal human immunoglobulin instead of the hepatitis A vaccine.
Protection against hepatitis A is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in high-risk areas .
Recommended Reading: July 28 World Hepatitis Day
How Is Hepatitis A Treated
Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A rarely causes long-term liver damage and doesn’t become a long-term illness. There isnt a specific treatment for hepatitis A, and most people will recover fully within one to two months. Usually, symptoms are managed at home with plenty of rest and painkillers and/or medication to help with itchiness, nausea or vomiting may be prescribed.
Occasionally hepatitis A can last longer and, in rare cases, it can be life-threatening if it causes the liver to stop working properly .
Whether youve got symptoms or not, dont prepare food for others or have sex until a healthcare professional tells you that youre no longer infectious.
Once youve recovered from hepatitis A youre immune this means you cant get it again. But you can get other types of hepatitis.
How Is Viral Hepatitis Prevented
Prevention of hepatitis involves measures to avoid exposure to the viruses, using immunoglobulin in the event of exposure, and vaccines. Administration of immunoglobulin is called passive protection because antibodies from patients who have had viral hepatitis are given to the patient. Vaccination is called active protection because killed viruses or non-infectious components of viruses are given to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies.
Avoidance of exposure to viruses
Prevention of viral hepatitis, like any other illness, is preferable to reliance upon treatment. Taking precautions to prevent exposure to another individual’s blood , semen , and other bodily secretions and waste will help prevent the spread of all of these viruses.
Use of immunoglobulins
Immune serum globulin is human serum that contains antibodies to hepatitis A. ISG can be administered to prevent infection in individuals who have been exposed to hepatitis A. ISG works immediately upon administration, and the duration of protection is several months. ISG usually is given to travelers to regions of the world where there are high rates of hepatitis A infection and to close or household contacts of patients with hepatitis A infection. ISG is safe with few side effects.
Individuals at increased risk of acquiring hepatitis A are:
Some local health authorities or private companies may require hepatitis A vaccination for food handlers.
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
Recommended Reading: How Do They Treat Hepatitis C
Hepatitis A And B Vaccines
There are vaccines to protect against hepatitis A and B. The CDC recommends hepatitis A vaccination for all children ages 12 to 23 months and for adults who plan to travel or work in areas with hepatitis A outbreaks or who have other risk factors. People with chronic hepatitis B or C should also get the hepatitis A vaccine if they don’t already have immunity to the disease. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who have any of the risk factors we discussed earlier. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.