How Common Is Hepatitis C
The exact number of people infected is not known. There are around 200,000 people chronically infected with hepatitis C in the UK. Worldwide, over 180 million people are infected. Rates of infection have been relatively stable in recent years, but deaths from hepatitis C have reduced, thought to be because treatment options have become better.
Most cases are in people who inject illegal drugs. It is estimated that up to half of injecting drug users become infected with hepatitis C.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
You can become ill any time between 2 and 4 weeks after coming into contact with the hepatitis A virus.
The average incubation period for the virus is 28 days.
Many infected people, particularly children less than 5 years old, show few or no symptoms.
For older children and adults, the symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- yellow skin and eyes .
Symptoms may last for several weeks. Most people fully recover from hepatitis A infection.
A single infection of hepatitis A leads to lifelong immunity. Prior infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C does not offer immunity for hepatitis A.
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
You May Like: What Is Hepatic Steatosis Of The Liver
Hepatitis A: How Does It Spread
It usually spreads through food or water. Food can be tainted when it’s touched by a person with hepatitis who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom. This transfers tiny amounts of infected stool to the food. Raw shellfish, fruits, vegetables, and undercooked foods are common culprits in hepatitis A outbreaks. The virus can also spread in daycare centers if employees aren’t careful about washing hands after changing diapers.
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.
Don’t Miss: Does Hepatitis C Lower Your Immune System
How Long Does It Last
Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months.
Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long condition. More than 90% of unimmunized infants who get infected develop a chronic infection, but 6%10% of older children and adults who get infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long infection. Most people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
Concerns About Immunisation Side Effects
If a side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about yourself or your childs condition after a vaccination, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the vaccination.
Recommended Reading: How You Catch Hepatitis B
What Is Acute Severe Hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Depending on the cause, the disease can be very sudden and progress to liver failure over a few days to weeks . Some types of hepatitis can be treated and most cases recover. Acute severe hepatitis in children is a rare condition in Canada, and in many cases, an underlying or contributing cause is not known.
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?
Recommended Reading: Does Hepatitis C Weaken Your Immune System
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.
Its Different Than Hepatitis A And B
Each form of hepatitis has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated differently. Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver, or that the virus has an affinity for hurting the liver, Reau says.
- Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term infection that often does not require treatment.
- Hepatitis B hides deep in the body and, like hepatitis C, is treated in a variety of ways, from antiviral medications to liver transplants.
The viruses are different, but all of them should be taken very seriously since they can lead to significant liver disease and even death, she adds.
Also Check: Herbal Medicine For Hepatitis B
Don’t Miss: How Can Someone Get Hepatitis C
What We Are Doing
PHAC is working closely with provincial, territorial, and international partners to further investigate any reported cases of acute severe hepatitis in children not caused by known hepatitis viruses. All provinces and territories are working to identify and report potential cases to PHAC. This will help to further define the national scope in Canada, and help determine if cases in Canada are related to other cases reported around the world.
At this time in Canada, we do not know if there has been an increase in acute severe hepatitis cases in children not caused by known hepatitis viruses. We are analyzing Canadian hospitalization data to determine the number of cases that we would normally see in Canada over time. This baseline information will allow us to determine if we are seeing an increase in cases reported.
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.
Also Check: Can You Have Hepatitis C And Not Know It
Chronic Hepatitis C Symptoms
If you donât get diagnosed and treated, you could have the disease for years and not know it. Doctors call this the chronic form, because it lasts a long time. Some people who’ve had it for a while get scarring of the liver, which is called cirrhosis. or liver cancer.
In addition to the above symptoms, signs that your liver isnât working the way it should include:
- Ascites — fluid buildup in your belly
- Easy bleeding
- Hepatic encephalopathy — confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech
- Jaundice of the skin
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.
You May Like: How Serious Is Hepatitis C
How Is Hepatitis A Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will listen to your symptoms and will take a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of hepatitis A. If the test finds immunoglobulin M antibodies, you have an acute hepatitis A. If there are antibodies, but not IgM antibodies, you are immune to the virus either because you had a case of it and recovered, or you got the hepatitis A vaccine.
What Causes Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus . The virus is spread when one person ingests tiny unseen pieces of fecal matter from an infected person. It takes about two to seven weeks after exposure to the virus for symptoms to start.
Water and ice can be contaminated with HAV. Raw shellfish from contaminated water can cause hepatitis A, as can other foods that are not cooked, such as fruits and vegetables.
You May Like: What Can Hepatitis C Do To You
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.
Hepatitis B: What Happens
Many adults who get hepatitis B have mild symptoms for a short time and then get better on their own. But some people are not able to clear the virus from the body, which causes a long-term infection. Nearly 90% of infants who get the virus will carry it for life. Over time, hepatitis B can lead to serious problems, such as liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer.
You May Like: Hepatitis C Shot Side Effects
Vaccination And Other Prevention Measures
Vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing the spread of hepatitis B. Since 1985, the hepatitis B vaccine has been part of the national immunisation schedule. In 1988, New Zealand was one of the first countries to introduce universal infant hepatitis B immunisation.The vaccine is given to babies at age six weeks, three months, and five months. Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B receive an extra dose of the vaccine at birth as well as a dose of hepatitis B-specific immune globulin.In children and adolescents who did not receive the hepatitis B vaccine in the first year of life, the full three-dose course is recommended.Hepatitis B immunisation is recommended and publicly funded for all infants and children up to their 18th birthday, household and sexual contacts of people with acute or chronic hepatitis B, and certain other high-risk populations. Measures that can help prevent the spread of the hepatitis B virus include:
- Teaching children not to touch the blood or wounds of others
- Covering cuts, scratches, and grazes
- Not sharing personal items such as razors and toothbrushes
- Never sharing needles or syringes if you use intravenous drugs
- Practising safe sex, including the use of condoms
- Seek assurance that body piercing and tattooing needles and equipment are sterile.
When Should You See A Doctor Or Other Healthcare Professional
Since so many people dont experience any symptoms, healthcare professionals recommend getting screened for hepatitis C at least once in your adult life. They may recommend more frequent screenings if you have a higher risk of contracting the virus.
Hepatitis C doesnt always become severe, but the chronic form can increase your risk for liver damage, liver cancer, and liver failure.
If you have any symptoms that suggest hepatitis C, especially if theres a chance youve been exposed, connect with a doctor or another healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss your options for testing and treatment.
With a prompt diagnosis, you can get treatment earlier, which may help prevent damage to your liver.
When Will Symptoms Appear After You Have Been Exposed To Hav
It generally takes about 4 weeks for symptoms to appear, but they can start at 2 weeks or they can start up to 8 weeks after you have been exposed. You probably wont get every symptom immediately, but they tend to emerge over days.
Also, you can have no symptoms and have the virus and be contagious. Children especially may be free of symptoms despite being infected.
What Are The Different Types Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic. How long you experience symptoms will depend on the type you have.
Acute hepatitis C involves more short-term symptoms that typically last 6 months or less but acute hepatitis often leads to chronic hepatitis. When hepatitis C lasts longer than 6 months, its considered chronic.
Without treatment, you may have chronic hepatitis your whole life, since your body often cant get rid of the virus easily. Some people do get better without treatment, although treatment can go a long way toward improving the outlook.
Hepatitis C wont necessarily become chronic.
As a matter of fact, for anywhere from 15 to 45 percent of people with acute hepatitis C, the virus will clear up without treatment. In other words, if you dont have any symptoms, hepatitis C could improve on its own before you ever know you have it.
However, if your body cant get rid of the hepatitis C virus, the infection wont go away. Instead, it will become chronic, or long-term.
Experts arent sure why some people develop the chronic form of the disease and others dont. But more than half of all people with the hepatitis C virus will eventually develop the chronic form, according to the
Since hepatitis C symptoms can resemble those of other health conditions, your symptoms alone if you have any may not make it clear that you have hepatitis C.
A doctor or other healthcare professional may recommend getting tested if you:
Recommended Reading: What Is Hepatitis B Shot For
Who Should Be Vaccinated
- All children aged 1223 months
- All children and adolescents 218 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- People with HIV
Other people recommended for vaccination
- Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or risk for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection
Any person who requests vaccination
There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.
What The Government Of Canada Is Doing
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians from enteric disease outbreaks.
The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.
Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.
You May Like: How Do You Know If You Get Hepatitis C
Articles On Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. You may not have any symptoms at all. Most people donât. This is one if the reasons, along with treatability now, that all adults are recommended to get tested. Your doctor could check your liver and see only a little damage. You’re usually not diagnosed until they spot a problem with your liver enzymes after a routine blood test.