Hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by various viruses.There are about seven recognized viruses responsible for the infection of the liver:–hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Of these A,B, C, and E are of greatest concern to health practitioners. Collectively all the types of hepatitis kill about 1.4 million people globally every year. However not much is known by the public about the disease and hence not much is done in the way of prevention on personal level. Beginning with Hepatitis A we shall discuss all the hepatitis infections of great concern, that is, Hepatitis A, B, C and E in the coming weeks.
1.What Causes Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is caused by Hepatitis A virus. It is very common in Africa, Central and South America, and the whole of Asia except Japan. However it also affects people in the North America and Western Europe.
About 2 million persons are affected every year globally; one infection confers lifelong protection against the disease.
2.How Does Hepatitis A Spread?
Human beings are the main reservoir of the infection. Spread is through food and water contaminated by stool (shit) and occasionally the urine of an infected person. The stool/urine gets to food and water through unwashed fingers and open defeacation. It can also spread through the use of contaminated sharp objects and homosexual sex. The virus is present in stool of an infected person from the time of exposure till the early stage of the illness. It is also present in the blood and urine during this early stage of the illness. Close contact with an infected person could also aid spread through contamination of say the fingers of the other person during a hand shake
3.When Do You Suspect You May Have Hepatitis A?
The symptoms and signs of hepatitis A include low-grade fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, upper right abdominal pain and yellowness of eyes/skin.
4.What Can Put You at Risk?
a. Lack of safe drinking water
b. Poor sanitation
c. Poor personal hygiene
d. Poor food hygiene
e. Age- adults and older persons are more at risk. Infants are protected by maternal antibody.
f. Close contact with an infected person
g. Travels to countries where the disease is very common.
h. Drug addicts
5.Possible Complications of Hepatitis A.
Complications of Hepatitis A infection include Chronic liver infection and acute liver failure.
Hepatitis A can be prevented in the following ways:
b.Food hygiene- heat food before eating
c.Proper sanitation facilities
d.Personal hygiene-always wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet.
e.Safe water (Always boil your water for drinking or drink only bottled water).