Infectious hepatitis

Infectious hepatitis

    • Sonam loves gorging on cut fruits sold by pavement vendors. But when this very habit got her exposed to the hepatitis A virus, and for the next three months she suffered from low-grade fever and fatigue, she vowed never to touch such cut fruits again.

    • Annie works in a rehabilitation center, and when she was down with infectious hepatitis, she just couldn’t figure out how, despite her carefulness, she could be affected by it.

    • Jatin was an entry level worker in the garbage recycling industry. Six months into his new job, he started suffering from low fever, and loss of appetite. He also passed clay-colored stools. His local doctor couldn’t get to the root of the problem, and referred him to the city hospital, where he was diagnosed with infectious hepatitis.

Hepatitis A, formerly called infectious hepatitis, is an infectious viral disease that affects your liver. The main culprit responsible for causing this disease is the RNA virus, which usually spreads when you eat contaminated water or food, or get into direct contact with a person who is infected. The fecal-oral route is the path through which this virus spreads. The virus can be found in the blood of infected people a couple of weeks before the illness develops.
How do you get infectious hepatitis?
You can get affected by this disease if

    • You come in contact with the blood or stool of a person already affected by the disease.

    • You drink or eat water or food that has been contaminated by feces containing hepatitis A virus (vegetables, fruits, ice, shellfish, and water are common sources of the hepatitis A virus).

    • You get involved in sexual acts that include oral-anal contact.

    • An affected person doesn’t wash his/her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches food or other objects.

You could have infectious hepatitis if you have

    • Fever

    • Vomiting

    • Nausea

    • Loss of appetite

    • Lethargy

    • Dark urine

    • Yellowing of skin and eyeballs (Jaundice)

    • Pale colored stool

    • Abdominal discomfort

The Hepatitis A virus does not show any symptoms or vaguely mimics the flu, during its early stages. Usually, symptoms are seen 2 to 6 weeks after the person has been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus. Though the symptoms are mild and vary from person to person, adults may sometimes face prolonged suffering, which could range from 2 to 6 months. Adults generally show more symptoms than children. This is because children below 6 years do not experience severe symptoms, with jaundice seen in only 10%, whereas infected adults are usually affected by jaundice on a larger scale.
You can manage infectious hepatitis!
Managing this acute viral disease is not very difficult and can be prevented with proper vaccines, good sanitation and complete hygiene.

    • Vaccines: Two types of vaccines are present for Hepatitis A – one which contains hepatitis A virus in inactivated state, and the other containing live virus that is attenuated. There are two doses of vaccines providing protection for about 20 -22 years.Vaccine is very essential for following people –

      • Tourists and travelers who visit countries affected by hepatitis A.

      • Sewage workers and plumbers who deal with polluted water the whole day. Jatin could have been spared the ordeal had he taken the vaccine.

      • Drug users who take injections.

      • Patients of chronic liver diseases.

      • People suffering from hemophilia receiving plasma concentrate.

    • Treatment:Though no specific treatment is available, bed rest, intake of a balanced, healthy diet, avoidance of fatty, spicy food and alcohol, as well as drinking fresh water can prove to be very useful.

    • Hygiene:Mainly transmitted due to unhygienic conditions, the most effective ways to combat infectious hepatitis is to eat clean and healthy food, and use proper disposal of garbage within housing complex and communities. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap water after going to the toilet, eating, handling nappies and condoms. When you come in contact with an infected person’s stools, blood, or other bodily fluid, you should ensure washing your hands thoroughly. Both Sonam and Annie could have reduced their risks of being affected by this disease had they ensured these steps.

  • Awareness:Making more and more people aware about the disease, organizing proper vaccination facilities for everyone, keeping the environment clean and healthy are some other steps that can help us all to fight this disease.