Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is a highly infectious disease-causing organism resulting in serious liver disease. The level of infection can range in severity from a mild condition that can last for a few weeks to a severe medical illness that can last for several months.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually appear two to six weeks after exposure to the virus. Patients with Hepatitis A will usually exhibit yellow skin or eyes, appetite loss, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, joint pain, and fatigue, to name a few. Hepatitis A is typically diagnosed through a blood test that looks for antibodies to the virus. In some cases, a liver biopsy may also be performed to assess the extent of liver damage.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the Hepatitis A vaccine. This vaccine is typically given in two doses, the first at least six months before potential exposure to the virus and the second dose six to 12 months later.
Most people who contract the virus will recover within two to six weeks without any long-term effects. However, some people may require hospitalization due to severe symptoms or complications such as liver failure. In rare cases, hepatitis A can be fatal.
Hepatitis A is a very contagious virus that can be spread through close contact with an infected person. For example, individuals may be exposed if a friend or loved one frequently touches their face or mouth and coughs while knowing they carry the disease without wearing gloves. While this behavior isn’t common in most cases of Hepatitis A, there’s always room for spreading the virus when infected individuals don’t practice proper hygiene.
Jaundice is one of the common symptoms in people with Hepatitis A infection. It occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment formed when red blood cells break down. Normally, bilirubin is removed from the blood by the liver. However, when the liver is damaged, such as in a Hepatitis A infection, it cannot remove bilirubin efficiently. This leads to a build-up of bilirubin in the blood, resulting in jaundice.
The best way to avoid contracting Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all children aged one year or older and adults at increased risk for Hepatitis A infection.