Hepatitis A - what are the symptoms?
Hepatitis is an infection that results in the inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs and alcohol abuse or most commonly through the virus, viral hepatitis. When first infected, it is possible to not notice any visible symptoms. However as the disease persists, you may experience fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and abdominal pain.
Types of Hepatitis.
The two most common forms of hepatitis are type A and type B affecting thousands of Canadians yearly. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food or water, and is present in the feces of infected individuals. Often, the body can get rid of the hepatitis A virus (HAV) on its own and it will not cause any long-term damage. On the other hand, hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through close contact of bodily fluids such as blood and semen. Some individuals, do not have the capability of clearing the virus out of their system and this can lead to a long-term infection known as chronic hepatitis.
Who is at Risk?
Hepatitis A is highly contagious and is commonly known as a travelling virus. Individuals travelling to countries where the virus is prevalent such as South Africa and the Caribbean have a higher chance of contracting HVA. Furthermore, eating raw food or drinking tap water can increase your chances even more while traveling. Hepatitis B is most commonly spread through unprotected sex or other risky behaviour such as sharing infected needles.
Fortunately, there is combination vaccine for both hepatitis A and B known as Twinrix which provides immunity for 10 years. Moreover if placed on a cycle regimen, it is possible to get immunity for your whole life. Therefore, if you are planning to travel to a country where hepatitis is common, it would be a good idea to get vaccinated.