Prevent Yourself from Hepatitis A
As summer approaches, it is important to remind all chronic Hepatitis
patients to be aware of the HAV virus and avoid becoming super-infected.
Hepatitis A can happen all year round but more frequently during the
vacation seasons when people travel to less developed countries where the
hygienic conditions, the water source, and foods preparation standards are
less stringent. For people who already have Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, a
super-infection with HAV can be very dangerous and greatly exacerbate
their existing condition. Thus, it is very important to be vaccinated
against the HAV virus.
Hepatitis A usually occurs
from eating contaminated foods. When HAV has infected the body, it first
multiplies in the gastrointestinal track, then enters the blood stream and
causes a temporary viremia. It then replicates in the white blood cells
and finally enters the liver and multiplies in the liver cells.
Before the patient shows any symptoms, the HAV virus will have already
been secreted from the Golgi apparatus of the liver cells to the bile
canaliculi, and then excreted to the intestine. It will then be eliminated
from the body along with the stool. During this incubation period and
before the presence of jaundice is the peak stage of infection ability.
The patient at this stage is the most dangerous source of the hepatitis A
virus as anything he secretes from his body, stool, urine, sputum, vomit,
are full of the HAV virus. These secretions, if not properly handled, can
contaminate water, foods, furniture, and all of his or her surrounding
environment. Any insects, especially flies that touch the patient are able
to spread the HAV virus even further.
Not every person who contracts HAV shows typical clinical
symptoms. A small number of people will show no symptoms at all and even
blood tests will not disclose their infection. These people can still
produce antibodies to the HAV and become immune to further infection.
However, they are still able to infect others during the incubation and
sub-clinical infection period.
After contraction of HAV, most people will show symptoms in
two to six weeks. Common symptoms are fever, weakness, joint pain, poor
appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. Jaundice (eyes, skin
turning white to yellowish, dark urine, pale stool) will occur
approximately one week after showing the above symptoms. At the same time,
blood tests will show highly elevated levels of ALT, AST, Bilirubin, GGT,
and AKP. This is a typical symptom pattern of acute hepatitis A.
The prognosis for HAV alone is benign and the disease course
is mostly self-limited. Very rarely does the hepatitis A become a severe
disease course, such as fulminant liver failure, or turn into a chronic
condition. After the infection, every patient will develop antibodies to
the disease and they will last a lifetime.
Because many adults have contracted this virus sometime in
their life and have gotten immunity, the occurrence of hepatitis A is
mostly in children and younger persons. In developed countries, such as
the USA, the adult serum positive rate is still low so when people travel
to developing countries, there is chance to contract this disease.
The best way to prevent infection is vaccination and those
with existing Hepatitis B or C conditions should definitely to vaccinated
as soon as possible.