Did Hepatitis A Originate In Humans Probably Not Say Scientists
Bats are old mammals on the evolutionary scale. They are extremely important ecologically and are under stringent species protection. They often live in large colonies and form reservoirs for various viruses.
Understanding the origins of viral pathogens allows researchers to study the underlying mechanisms that make a particular disease preferentially virulent over the multitude of other innocuous viruses. For many years hepatitis A infections, which can trigger acute liver infections, were widely considered to be the result of a pathogen of purely human and nonhuman primate origin.
However now, an international team of scientists lead by researchers at the University of Bonn has conducted a large-scale study of nearly 16,000 specimens collected from small animals across the globe and uncovered that the hepatitis A virus much like HIV and Ebolacan likely trace its origin to other small mammals.
Prior to this study, we had no understanding of the origins of HAV, an ancient and common threat to health in many regions of the world, explained co-author Stanley Lemon, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases . Now we know that it evolved among small mammals such as bats and spread from them to humans in the distant past.
The findings from this study were published online recently in PNAS through an article entitled Evolutionary origins of hepatitis A virus in small mammals.
Keep Personal Items Personal
Any tools or implements that may have a bit of blood on them from infected people are potential sources of hepatitis B or C transmission. Toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, needles, and washcloths may all contain trace amounts of blood that can transmit infection. Keep personal items such as these to yourself and never use personal items that belong to others.
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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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:
Treatment For Hepatitis A
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. In most cases, your immune system will clear the infection and your liver will completely heal. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Options may include:
- Rest hepatitis A can make you tired and lacking in energy for day-to-day life, so rest when you can.
- Eat small meals more often nausea can affect your ability to eat and can contribute to tiredness, so eat small amounts of high-calorie foods often if nausea is a problem.
- Drink fluids.
- Protect your liver the liver processes medication and alcohol, so avoid alcohol and review any medication with your doctor.
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Does Hepatitis A Always Cause Symptoms
There’s a lot of variety in how people feel when they have the disease. It’s possible you might not have any symptoms. But people often feel and look sick. You might even need to go to the hospital.
Symptoms and complications are more common as you get older. Most children under age 6 with hep A don’t have any.
Hepatitis A Immunisation Is Recommended For High
In Victoria, the vaccine is recommended for:
- people travelling to places where hepatitis A is common
- people whose work puts them at increased risk of infection including:
- plumbers and sewage workers
- people who work with children
- people who work with people with developmental disabilities
Remember that immunisation against hepatitis A does not protect you against hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
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What Is The Medical Treatment For Hepatitis A
- If a patient becomes dehydrated, the doctor may prescribe IV fluids.
- If a patient is experiencing significant nausea and vomiting, he or she will receive medicines to control these symptoms.
- People whose symptoms are well controlled can be cared for at home.
- If dehydration or other symptoms are severe, or if the patient is extremely confused or difficult to arouse, he or she will most likely be hospitalized.
How Can I Tell If I Have The Disease
If you have hepatitis A you might get a sudden fever or headache and feel tired. You might not want to eat as much as usual, and you may feel queasy. You may vomit or have stomach pain. Some people with the disease have chills, aching muscles and joints, cough, diarrhea, constipation, or itchy skin.
Later in the disease you may have jaundice , and your feces may be pale or clay colored. Rarely, the brain can be affected. This can cause confusion, unusual eye and body movements, and even coma.
Your doctor can do a blood test to see if you have the disease. Other things your doctor may look for are a painful and large liver, spleen, or lymph nodes, and a slow heart rate.
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How Is Hepatitis Treated
Someone who has hepatitis will need to drink enough fluids, eat healthy foods, and get rest. The person’s family members may need to get hepatitis vaccines, if they haven’t already.
Later on, the person will get follow-up blood tests. Often the blood tests will show that the person no longer has hepatitis. Sometimes, the blood tests may show that someone is now a carrier of hepatitis he or she won’t have hepatitis symptoms, but could pass the infection to other people.
Sometimes, blood tests will continue to show that some people still have hep B or C, which means they may have chronic hepatitis. If so, they will need to eat healthy foods and take very good care of themselves by getting rest and visiting the doctor regularly. In some cases, someone with chronic hepatitis may get special medicine for the condition.
We hope that this heads-up on hepatitis will help you stay safe. It may sound funny, but you can love your liver by washing your hands and making smart choices!
What Are The Symptoms Of The Hepatitis A Virus
Low energy is the most common symptom of HAV. Other symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, itchy skin, muscle soreness, pain near the liver, and jaundice .
Symptoms of HAV can occur two to seven weeks after infection and are often mild. Children may not have any symptoms. Symptoms usually go away within two months. If you think you have HAV, it is important to see a doctor symptoms of HAV are similar to other more serious liver diseases.
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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
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.
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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
Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis A
People more likely to get hepatitis A are those who
- travel to developing countries
- have sex with an infected person
- are men who have sex with men
- use illegal drugs, including drugs that are not injected
- experience unstable housing or homelessness
- live with or care for someone who has hepatitis A
- live with or care for a child recently adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common
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How Do You Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can be spread by sexual contact with an infected person or close personal contact . However, it is most often spread by what scientists call the fecal-oral route. This happens when one person eats or drinks something that has small amounts of fecal matter from another person who has hepatitis A. This can happen by touching something that has the virus on it and then putting your hands in your mouth. It can happen when food is grown, picked, processed or served. Water can also be contaminated.
Mothers do not pass on hepatitis A in breast milk. You cannot be infected with HAV by sitting near to or hugging someone with hepatitis A. It does not spread through coughs or sneezes.
What Are The Risk Factors
Some people are at an increased risk for contracting HAV, including:
- people traveling to areas of the world where hepatitis A is common
- men who have sex with men
- people who use injectable or noninjectable drugs
- caregivers for those who have hepatitis A
- people who are experiencing homelessness
- people living with a child whos been adopted from an area where hepatitis A is common
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
- Many people with HAV infection have no symptoms at all.
- Sometimes symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed.
- Older people are more likely to have symptoms than children.
- People who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus so it is difficult to know when a person has been exposed to the virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop between 2-6 weeks after infection. The symptoms are usually not too severe and go away on their own, over time. The most common hepatitis A symptoms are as follows:
- Urine is dark brownish in color, like cola or strong tea.
- Pain in the area of the liver, on the right side of the abdomen just under the rib cage
If the vomiting is severe, dehydration may occur. Dehydration may become serious and life-threatening in some affected individuals, so symptoms of dehydration need to be quickly addressed, often by a medical caregiver. Symptoms of dehydration include the following:
- Feeling weak or tired
- Feeling confused or unable to concentrate
- Rapid heartbeat
- Urinating less frequently than usual
Symptoms of hepatitis A infection usually last less than 2 months, although they may last as long as 9 months. Some people infected with hepatitis A have symptoms that come and go for 6-9 months.
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.
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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 .
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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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
When To Seek Medical Care For Hepatitis A
Contact a healthcare professional if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Nausea and vomiting that does not improve within 1-2 days
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Pain in the belly
The following situations also warrant a call to a healthcare professional:
- You have symptoms and think that you might have been exposed to someone with hepatitis.
- You have other medical problems and think that you might have hepatitis.
- You have had close contact with someone diagnosed with hepatitis.
If you cannot reach your primary doctor and have any of the following symptoms, go to an emergency department or an urgent care facility:
- Vomiting and inability to keep down any liquids
- Severe pain or high fever
- Confusion, delirium, or difficulty awakening
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