What is hepatitis A?
‘Hepar’ is Greek for liver; ‘itis’ means inflammation. hepatitis, therefore, is an inflammation of the liver. There are different types of hepatitis. hepatitis A is the most harmless variety but it is also very contagious. Each year, over 10 million people world-wide are infected with the hepatitis A virus.
How do people get hepatitis A?
People become infected through contaminated food and water. The dazzling blue ocean water near a five-star hotel could be contaminated due to an open sewer nearby. The exquisite dinner in the same hotel could be contaminated because the cook has not washed their hands after visiting the toilet. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact, particularly oral-anal sex. When licking the anus, small particles of faeces can get into the mouth.
- sharing unhygienic sanitary facilities.
- oral-anal sex.
Does one always get sick when infected with hepatitis A?
What happens if somebody does get sick from hepatitis A?
The symptoms can vary, but include fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pains to nausea and abdominal pains. The illness can also produce colour changes in eyes, skin, urine, (tea colour) and faeces (pale colour).
How long is the incubation period?
After the initial infection, it normally takes two to six weeks before one gets sick.
Is hepatitis A curable?
Yes, but not with medicine. After a few months, hepatitis A eventually disappears by itself. If someone has been sick with hepatitis A once, they are immune to the virus for the rest of their life.
How can contracting hepatitis A be prevented?
The golden rule is good personal hygiene. Always wash your hands after visits to the toilet, or before eating or preparing food. There are also vaccinations against hepatitis A infection. A safe and effective vaccine against hepatitis A (+B in combination) has now been available for many years.