How Do People Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of people with HAV infection. It enters the body through the mouth after someone handles something contaminated with HAV, or eats or drinks something contaminated with HAV.
People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with a person who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water. After the virus enters the body, there is an incubation period lasting 2 to 7 weeks until illness begins.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all children in the U.S. get vaccinated against hepatitis A at age 12 months. However, if an infant aged 6-11 months will be traveling to a country with a significant number of people with hepatitis A, the child should get one dose before leaving the U.S. The child should then get 2 doses separated by 6 to 18 months when the child is between 12 months and 23 months.
You should also get the hepatitis A vaccine if you fall into one of the following groups:
- Men who have sexual contact with other men.
- Users of any type of illegal drugs.
- People with blood clot disorders, such as hemophilia.
- People who have chronic liver disease.
- Homeless people.
- People who will be closely involved with a person being adopted from a country with high rates of hepatitis A infections.
What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis A
If you have not had the vaccine, and your infection has been confirmed by a blood sample, your healthcare provider might give you the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin . This only works if the medicine is given within two weeks of you being exposed to HAV.
If you were exposed and are unable to get the vaccine or the immune globulin, you are likely to recover without treatment. However, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you follow the following self-care recommendations:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Review any type of medicineprescription and over-the-counterthat you take with your healthcare provider. Even things like supplements or vitamins could cause damage to your liver.
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How Is Hepatitis A Diagnosed And Treated
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.
Preparation And Use Of Drugs
Washing hands and using sterile water to prepare and use drugs lower the risk of catching hepatitis A. The use of new paraphernalia for the preparation, injection and inhalation of drugs lowers the risk of catching hepatitis B and C through blood.
Never share drug paraphernalia. To know the location of distribution points for drug injecting material, call Info-Santé 811.
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How Long Before I Have Symptoms
Many people have mild symptoms or no symptoms, which is why hepatitis is sometimes called a âsilentâ disease.
Hepatitis A. The symptoms usually show up 2 to 6 weeks after the virus enters your body. They usually last for less than 2 months, though sometimes you can be sick for as long as 6 months.
Some warning signs that you may have hepatitis A are:
Hepatitis B. The symptoms are the same as hepatitis A, and you usually get them 3 months after you’re infected. They could show up, though, anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months later.
Sometimes the symptoms are mild and last just a few weeks. For some people, the hep B virus stays in the body and leads to long-term liver problems.
Hepatitis C. The early symptoms are the same as hepatitis A and B, and they usually happen 6 to 7 weeks after the virus gets in your body. But you could notice them anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months later.
For about 25% of people who get hep C, the virus goes away on its own without treatment. In other cases, it sticks around for years. When that happens, your liver might get damaged.
Remember, it’s possible to spread all the types of hepatitis even if you don’t show any signs of being sick.
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.
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For How Long Is An Infected Person Able To Spread The Virus
The contagious period begins one to two weeks before symptoms appear, and is minimal about one week after the onset of jaundice. Food workers should be excluded from work for at least two weeks after the onset of clinical symptoms of hepatitis A. If jaundiced, food workers should not return to work for at least one week after onset of jaundice.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need treatment?
- What treatment is best for me?
- Will I need be hospitalized?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid taking?
- Are there foods I should avoid eating?
- Can I drink alcohol?
- How can I protect my family from getting hepatitis A?
- If Ive had hepatitis A, am I at higher risk of getting other types of hepatitis?
- Will I have permanent liver damage?
- How soon before I travel should I be vaccinated?
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What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis
Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.
Hepatitis A often goes away on its own and home treatment is all that is needed to help the liver recover, such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver
Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral medications
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Treatment for hepatitis C is effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:
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.
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What Causes Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. You get the virus when you unknowingly eat a small amount of infected feces. This can happen through person-to-person contact, or through eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
A person can have and spread hepatitis A, even if that person does not have any symptoms. You are most likely to get hepatitis A from another person when:
- A person who has the virus does not wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom
- A parent does not wash their hands properly after changing the diaper of an infected child
- A caregiver does not wash their hands properly after cleaning up the stool of an infected person
- A person has sex with a person who has the virus
You can also get infected with hepatitis A by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Contaminated food and water are more common in developing countries. When traveling in areas where hepatitis A is common, avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables, shellfish, ice, and untreated water.
How Long Does It Take Before Symptoms Of Hepatitis Begin
In general, the incubation period from time of initial viral infection to development of symptoms ranges widely from about two weeks to six months.
Treatments for contagious hepatitis types vary according to the underlying cause and type of hepatitis. Most individuals are contagious about one to two weeks before symptoms appear. Depending upon the type of hepatitis, they can remain contagious for an extended length of time. For example, people with hepatitis A are contagious for at least two weeks after the onset of symptoms, but for hepatitis C and other types of hepatitis, individuals may not be cured of hepatitis and are contagious unless specific treatments occur.
In general, it takes about six months for the liver to recover from “cured”hepatitis A in most individuals. With other hepatitis types, patients may not be cured for many years.
With noncontagious hepatitis, again the “cure” is dependent upon treatment of the underlying cause. If the underlying cause is “cured,” the liver function may or may not improve.
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What Is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of hepatitis cases in developed countries. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through the fecal-oral route, meaning a person somehow ingests contaminated feces from an infected person. If an infected person did not wash his or her hands properly after using the bathroom, the disease may spread from the persons hands. The incubation period is two to six weeks, during which the infected individual is contagious.
Another cause of hepatitis A is eating shellfish harvested from contaminated water. Developing countries experience hepatitis A epidemics caused by drinking water contaminated with raw sewage.
The prognosis for hepatitis A patients is excellent with self-limiting course, and recovery is complete. About 85 percent of people with hepatitis A recover within three months, and almost all recover within six months. The disease does not become chronic, and there are no long-term health implications.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Most people with hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms when they acquire the hepatitis C virus infection, however, about 1/4th of those infected will have symptoms like
- abdominal pain,
Infectious causes of hepatitis usually are, but not always, contagious. For example, hepatitis caused by viruses usually is contagious, although many types of hepatitis are transferred mainly from person to person by blood-to-blood transfer, for example, individual sharing needles, acupuncture, sexual contact, and organ transplantation.
Some infectious parasites cause hepatitis in individuals, but are not contagious person to person.
Most noninfectious causes of hepatitis are not contagious. Hepatitis caused by alcohol poisoning, medications, or toxins or poisons are not transmitted from person to person.
Therefore, the answer to the question “Is hepatitis contagious?” depends upon the type of hepatitis.
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How Do I Avoid Getting Sick
These tips will help protect you and your family from Hepatitis A:
- Wash your hands after using the washroom and changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
- When travelling, especially to developing countries:
- drink water from a safe supply
- avoid ice cubes in drinks
- eat only freshly cooked food
- avoid non-peelable raw fruit or vegetables
Also, these safe food practices will reduce your risk of contracting Hepatitis A and other foodborne illnesses.
How Common Is Hepatitis A
In the United States, hepatitis A has become relatively uncommon. After the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1995, the rate of hepatitis A infections declined by 95 percent in the United States. The number of reported cases of hepatitis A fell to 1,239 in 2014, the lowest yearly number of cases reported since the disease could be tracked.1 However, the number of reported cases increased to 3,366 in 2017, almost 3 times higher, mostly due to outbreaks among people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness.1 Early reports suggest that the numbers of cases and outbreaks of hepatitis A increased further during 2018 and continue at these higher rates in 2019.2
Hepatitis A is more common in developing countries where sanitation is poor and access to clean water is limited. Hepatitis A is more common in parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe than it is in the United States.
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How Contagious Is Hepatitis A From A Restaurant
A recent case of Hepatitis A at a Toledo Dave and Busters is concerning local patrons who recently dined there. But how contagious is this condition?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus which causes the liver to become inflamed. The prevalence of hepatitis A has decreased since the vaccine was introduced in 1995, but its still common and contagious.
However, the likelihood of getting it from a food worker may not be as high as you think. Michael Basista, MD, a gastroenterologist with ProMedica Physicians, said that patrons have a fairly low risk of acquiring hepatitis A from a restaurant employee. Like other viruses, its spread when food, typically uncooked food or already cooked food, is touched by the person infected. If they didnt wash their hands they could pass it on, he explained.
Other employees are at a somewhat higher risk because they work alongside the person, said Dr. Basista. Immediate family, too, is also at risk. For these people, a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended.
The good news: Hepatitis A doesnt cause a chronic condition and once you have it youre immune, said Dr. Basista. Having hepatitis A also doesnt increase your risk for cirrhosis or cancer.
Dr. Basista recommends that those with liver problems or other significant health problems ask their doctors about the hepatitis A vaccination if they may have been exposed.
How Is The 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. This type of transmission is called the “fecal-oral” route. For this reason, the virus is more easily 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 may also be spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person. Waterborne outbreaks are infrequent and are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water. Casual contact, as in the office, factory or school setting, does not spread the virus.
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When Should You Contact Doctor If You Think You Have Hepatitis
Fortunately, for some types of hepatitis , there are preventative treatments. Consequently, if a person suspects that they may have been recently exposed to any type of infectious hepatitis, they should contact their health-care professional quickly to prevent liver damage.
If a person has the following symptoms for days, they should seek medical care urgently.
Can Bleach Or Cleaner Kill Hepatitis A
Disinfectant that contains bleach can kill the hepatitis A virus on hard non-porous surfaces like toilet seats. However, freezing does not kill HAV.
If you cook food that is contaminated for one minute at cooking temperatures higher than 185ºF , it will kill HAV. However, food can be contaminated after cooking, so it is very important to wash your hands well with soap and water.
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Baby Boomers Are At Higher Risk
If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you might not realize that you are more likely to have hepatitis C. The reason is that intravenous drug use was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, and this practice occurred more commonly in young adults that were born between 1945-1965. Also, blood transfusions in the 1960s and 1970s not infrequently spread hepatitis C since the diagnostic test for hepatitis C was not yet discovered and blood could not be screened. All baby boomers should have a one-time test for hepatitis C to rule out infection.
Hepatitis C is a tricky disease. Its highly contagious, very dangerous and usually exists without presenting any symptoms at all. While hepatitis C can be transmitted in many different ways, its important to do what you can to help prevent contracting or spreading the disease, whenever possible, such as avoiding sharing needles at any time. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you have questions, fears or would like to be tested.