Hepatitis A is an infection caused by a virus. This virus attacks the liver and can cause a person to become quite ill for a short period of time. Hepatitis A is an acute infection and never becomes a chronic illness. Despite this, it is always better to prevent an infection than to deal with it once you have it.
The modes of transmission of hepatitis A are well known. Because of this, it is possible to take steps to keep from getting hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A is transmitted by what is known in medicine as the “fecal-oral route”. No, this does not mean that you have to literally eat feces to be infected with the virus. A “fecal-oral” transmission does mean that the virus is excreted in the feces of an infected person, and transmitted to another person by touching and contaminated food or water. In other words, you pass it along by not washing your hands after you use the bathroom.
Hepatitis A is not generally passed from one person to another via contaminated blood products, as is the case with hepatitis B and C. Sexual contact is not a common method of transmitting hepatitis A either. Although anal sex followed by oral sex could put a person at risk.
The best way to keep from getting hepatitis A is to maintain proper hygiene. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom. Children should be taught to always wash their hands PROPERLY. Simply holding your hands under running water for two seconds is not washing them properly. Use soap. Scrub. Rinse. Many outbreaks of hepatitis A happen in schools and daycare centers because kids don’t like to wash well.
Food should be well cleaned before eating. This is especially true of foods that are eaten without being cooked, such as salads. Wash your fruits and vegetables before preparing them to be eaten.
Water sources can become contaminated with hepatitis A. Water that has been contaminated with hepatitis A is impossible to distinguish from the non-contaminated water. As such, it is important to keep water sources as clean as possible.
In the mid-1990’s a vaccine was developed to prevent the spread of hepatitis A. This is a good way to keep from getting the virus. This vaccine can be given to adults and children. If you feel you are at risk for getting hepatitis A, this can be a good option to help prevent the spread of the virus. The total number of cases of hepatitis A has dropped significantly since the introduction of the vaccine.
If you have more questions about how to keep from getting hepatitis A or are interested in becoming vaccinated, make an appointment to see your doctor. Only your doctor can provide the vaccination.