Hepatitis A
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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is a liver infection and can affect anyone. Young children can be infected with the virus but not show any symptoms. 

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of persons with HAV.

It is spread by:
  1. faeco-oral route.
  2. poor sanitation or poor personal hygiene 
  3. contaminated food, e.g. Shellfish, ice-cream, water and beverages.

Reservoir
Humans.


Incubation period
10 - 40 days. Children tend to show fewer signs and symptoms than adults.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite,
  • Fatigue,
  • Fever,
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Nausea,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Jaundice (yellowish colour on the skin and eyeballs)

Diagnosis

  1. Blood tests specific for Hepatitis A (antibody test)
  2. Blood tests for liver function will reveal the severity of the disease.

Treatment
There is no specific medical treatment.


Control and Prevention

  • Exclude the case from child care, school or work for one week after the onset of illness or jaundice.
  • Educate the general public in personal hygiene - everyone washes hands before preparing/eating food and after defecation.
  • Proper water treatment and distribution systems and sewage disposal.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine is the best protection. Short-term protection against hepatitis A is available from immune globulin. It can be given before and within 2 weeks after coming in contact with HAV. Vaccination should be considered for individuals with special needs, whose capacity to maintain good standards of hygiene is limited. The vaccination should also be extended to their carers. Occupational vaccination should be offered to lab workers working directly with HAV, those working directly with non-human primates and to sewage workers who are at a high likelilhood of regular direct contact with raw sewage.
  • People travelling to areas with intermediate or high incidence should be made aware of the importance of good hygiene and vaccination.

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