Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Statistics of Hep A

Hepatitis A also called Hep A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is one of the most common causes of acute hepatitis globally.

Humans are the only natural reservoir of the virus. Nearly, 13.7 million cases of infection and 28,000 mortality cases reported by the WHO in the year 2010. It occurs to all individuals of all ages. The primary route of infection is drinking contaminated water, fecal-oral route or through close contact with an infected individual. People acquire HAV infection using illicit drugs, sexual contact, and traveling in high endemic areas. In the developing countries, the incidence of hepatitis A is very high due to overpopulation and poor sanitation.

How Long Does It Take To Get Over Hepatitis A?

How Long Does It Take To Get Over Hepatitis A?

The incubation period of acute HAV infection is 2.5 to 5 weeks (average 28 days). Acute HAV infection occurs in children who are all older than 6 years and have symptoms like jaundice and abdominal pain. Fatigue, malaise, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and fever are associated during HAV infection. Less than 25% of the patients have diarrhea though HAV is transmitted through the fecal-oral route. The duration of HAV in blood and stool shedding of HAV may be longer in HIV-positive individuals, increasing the window of opportunity for wider transmission of HAV to those engaged in risk behaviors. In young children, acute HAV infection is often asymptomatic. In contrast, older children and adults demonstrate a range of clinical manifestations from mild, anicteric infection to fulminant hepatic failure, with substantial morbidity and economic consequences.

How HAV Infection Is Transmitted?

In countries with high endemicity, most individuals acquire HAV in their early childhood and are immune to the virus. Travelers from low endemic areas are exposed to HAV during travel or dwelling in high endemic areas. Sometimes, being engaged in unsafe activities, i.e. contact with infected persons, particularly men who have sex with infected men or using illegal drug injection. Many outbreaks of acute HAV infection occurred in developed countries because of homosexuality (Men who have sexual contact with men) and sharing drug needles. Contamination of food by hepatitis A can take place at any point such as growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. This is common in countries where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene is practiced.

Apart from water & food-borne and personal contact, HAV transmission from hospitalized patients with the unsuspected disease to staff is also well documented which is known as nosocomial infection. HAV vertical transmission is not common, but was the apparent source of hepatitis A in a nursery outbreak. Transfusion of infected blood has been reported many times.

If Exposed To HAV What We Need To Do?

Individuals who have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus should get the hepatitis A vaccine within 2 weeks to prevent severe illness. Vaccine or antibody shot is only effective in preventing hepatitis A if it is given within the first 2 weeks after exposure. Serum gamma globulin was protective for up to 9 months that is even a small dose 0.01 ml/lb were effective against HAV. A chronic HAV state has not been reported. Rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids can make the individuals feel better, but it may take more than 4 weeks. One must avoid alcohol during management, because this may reduce the strain on the liver. There is no specific management or drug therapy is necessary for most patients with uncomplicated HAV infection.

Conclusion

Hepatitis A is common worldwide. Chlorination of water can destroy hepatitis A virus, which enters through the water supply. The national authority must routinely involve in monitoring natural water bodies to prevent the fecal contamination. This might stop spreading of hepatitis A virus specifically. Improved sanitation and establishment of HAV vaccination in areas of high HAV endemicity can decline the endemicity.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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