Hepatitis A Overview
Hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. It causes mild to severe illness that lasts several weeks to several months. There were 3,473 incidents of acute Hepatitis A infection in the United States in 2013, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of cases reported overseas is much higher. Hepatitis A is a disease of the third world where poor sanitation and lack of safe drinking water leads to infection.
Here are answers to common questions regarding this disease:
How is Hepatitis A transmitted?
Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water. Eating contaminated shellfish is a common way to contract the virus. Hepatitis A can also spread from person to person via close contact. They do not need to be symptomatic to spread the disease. Having sex with an infected person is another way the virus can be transmitted. It is also possible to contract the virus through shared needles.
How does the infection take place?
The virus is found in the feces of an infected person, and it is transferred to food or water. A person consumes the contaminated items and becomes sick. Most infections are a result of improper hand washing and improper cooking.
Is there a cure for Hepatitis A?
Yes. The infection is usually treated with fluids and medications for symptoms. Most recover within a few weeks if the disease is mild or months if it’s more severe. There’s also a vaccine which prevents the infection. The Hepatitis A vaccine is usually given to children and to people traveling overseas.
Can people die from Hepatitis A?
Yes. People that develop acute Hepatitis A are unlikely to recover from the infection.