It is estimated that 2,800 people in the United States are infected with Hepatitis A virus, many of which do not know they have the disease. Hepatitis A is an acute illness, meaning it does not stay in your system long term. Those afflicted with the virus either get over the infection, or go on to die from the symptoms.
Hepatitis A is most commonly transmitted by ingesting something that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Other less common modes of transmission are exposure to contaminated food such as raw shellfish, close contact with infected persons, sexual contact with infected persons, and sharing needles.
Symptoms of this viral Hepatitis strain include
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine
- Pale stool and diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
Symptoms typically last less than two months, although it is possible to have the symptoms reappear for a period of up to six months. Once infected with the Hepatitis A virus, you cannot contract it again due to the bodies immune response.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent contracting the virus. It is recommended that children are vaccinated at 1 year of age, and booster injections are not necessary.
Other people who should be vaccinated include men who have sex with men, persons who use drugs, persons who have chronic liver disease, persons with clotting-factors disorders, and persons who are in close contact with someone infected with the virus. Anyone who wants immunity from the virus can be vaccinated in the United States.
Premier Health Associates has two gastroenterology specialists with extensive experience in treating Hepatitis and other liver diseases. If you are having symptoms, make an appointment with Premier Health Associates as soon as possible. We are open seven days a week.
For more information of the Hepatitis A virus and the vaccine, please visit the CDC’s webpage.