If you’re a traveler you may have heard that you need to be vaccinated to protect yourself from Hepatitis A, also known as the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is rarely fatal and does not cause chronic liver disease.
How is Hepatitis A Transmitted?
Hepatitis A is transmitted by coming in contact with another person who has the virus or by eating or drinking contaminated food and/or water contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. Poor sanitary conditions and bad hygiene are often the main risk factors for catching the virus. The hepatitis A virus is so hearty, it can even survive modern food-production processes that are used to kill or control bacterial pathogens.
Is Hepatitis A Dangerous?
According to the World Health Organization most people fully recover from hepatitis A. Still, there are some who contract HAV and die from what is called fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure). Those infected may take weeks to return to a normal healthy lifestyle.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
When HAV is transmitted there is a 14-28 day incubation period before symptoms occur. Symptoms may include:
Vaccinations and Prevention of Hepatitis A
The number one way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A is hygiene. Clean and safe drinking water, proper disposal of trash, hand washing and a clean environment in which to live can help stop the spread of HAV.
There are several injectable inactivated hepatitis A vaccines available. Virtually 100% of all people who get the vaccine will have protective levels of antibodies to the virus within 30 days of a vaccination. The World Health Organization states that manufacturers of the vaccines will recommend two doses for long-term protection.
The most common prescription vaccine injections are Havrix and Vaqta. Neither contains the live virus. They work by stimulating the body to create antibodies that will fight and kill the virus. Speak to your doctor about these vaccinations.
If you are planning to travel these other articles may offer some helpful tips:
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This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnoses or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).
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