Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease, caused by a virus called Hepatovirus (HAV). Hepatitis A can be a serious disease, sometimes lasting for several months. HAV is a very hard to kill virus as it can sustain high temperatures, acidic pH and freezing temperatures. Thus, it can stay in faeces and soil for long periods of time. HAV enters through the mouth of the person, penetrate the gut, replicate and then reach the liver through blood and causes injury to the liver cells. Young children usually are careers only. Older children and adults develop the Hepatitis A disease in 2-6 weeks after infection. Infected persons start shedding the virus in faeces after the incubation time. Hepatitis A disease is a self limiting illness, and does not cause permanent damage to the liver, but can take months to recover.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A:
Hepatitis A causes abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, joint pain and fever. Elevated levels of liver enzymes results in dark urine, grey-colored stools and jaundice.
How is Hepatitis A contagious?
Hepatitis A is spread by eating fecal contaminated food or water. This disease mainly spreads via careless handling of food or water like touching food without washing hands after going to the bathroom. Hepatitis A is common in countries where personal hygiene and sanitation facilities are poor. It can also spread through oral-anal sex with the infected person.