February 17, 2020

How Do You Know If You Have a Hepatitis A Infection?

Hepatitis A is a very contagious virus that can cause serious illness and death. In recent years, a huge hepatitis A outbreak in the United States has been ongoing since 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30,000 people have. even sickened, almost 19,000 patients have been hospitalized, and more than 300 people have died. How do you know if you have a hepatitis A infection?

How Do You Know If You Have a Hepatitis A Infection?

While most of these illnesses have occurred in certain populations, such as the homeless and drug users, this virus can infect people through contaminated food and drink. A hepatitis A outbreak in 2019, which has not yet been declared over, was linked to Fresh Thyme blackberries. And a hepatitis A outbreak at the Mendham Golf and Tennis Club in Mendham Township, New Jersey sickened 23 people.

One of the issues with this illness is that an infected person is contagious for about two weeks before symptoms appear. Someone working with food and drink in a restaurant can potentially sicken many people before they even know they are ill. So how do you know if you have a hepatitis A infection?

Hepatitis A Symptoms

The symptoms of hepatitis A are numerous and clear. Most people develop fatigue, sudden nausea and vomiting, and abdominal pain, especially in the upper right quadrant. Other symptoms include clay-colored stools, dark urine, a low grade fever, loss of appetite, joint pain, intense itching. The hallmark symptom of hepatitis A is yellowing of the skin and eyes, known as jaundice.

These symptoms can appear within 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus. And people can be sick for a few weeks up to several months.

Complications

Complications of this illness can be serious, especially in people who have chronic liver disease and older adults. A sudden loss of liver function can occur, which requires hospitalization. Some people may need a liver transplant.

Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself against this illness is to get an immune globulin or hepatitis A vaccination. The type of vaccine depends on your age, if you are immunocompromised, whether you are allergic to one of the components in the vaccine, and whether or not you have liver disease.

The vaccine is given in two doses about six months apart. Many experts think that people who work with the public, especially those who handle food, should be vaccinated as a matter of routine. Ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated against this virus.

 

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