Many travelers forget how common it is nowadays to contract Hepatitis A virus during their trips. The definition of “Hepatitis” refers to an inflammation of the liver. The liver is known to be an important and a vital organ in your body and it is located on the upper, right side of your stomach. The liver has many functions but its main roles are to: cleanse the blood, fights off infections, and metabolizes nutrients to supply energy to the body.
Contracting Hepatitis A Virus refers to contagious liver disease as a result of the Hepatitis A virus. The illness can last from several weeks to months. Individuals who can get infected with the Hepatitis A virus usually recover and do not have chronic liver damage. Individuals who recover from Hepatitis A virus have long lasting lifetime immunity against Hepatitis A.
Although, it is possible for individuals to die from Hepatitis A virus but it extremely uncommon and it can occur in individuals over the age of 50 and diagnosed with other chronic liver conditions and with other complex medical diseases.
The risk of Hepatitis A is associated with poor hygiene and sanitation, unsafe and improper food handling including lack of safe water supply. Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through close contact with other individuals associated with poor hygienic practice. You are at risk of contracting Hepatitis A at any part of the world.
Individuals can pass Hepatitis A virus to others without even having any symptoms. Symptoms can start as early as two weeks after exposure and may take up to 50 days to appear. The most common signs and symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and white part of the eyes), fatigue, grey-coloured stools, concentrated (tea-coloured urine), fever, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain.
Hepatitis A can be prevented by getting vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine is safe and effective and you will need to get 2 doses at least 6 months apart which will provide you with life lasting immunity. The other measures that you can do to prevent from contracting Hepatitis A virus: washing thoroughly your hands with soap and water, using alcohol based hand sanitizer (if you have nowhere to wash your hands) and utilizing safe food and water practices.
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Canadian Liver Foundation (2016). How the liver works. Retrieved from: http://www.liver.ca/liver-health/how-liver-works.aspx
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Hepatitis A general information. Retrieved from: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1859.pdf
Government of Canada (2016). Hepatitis A. Retrieved from: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/diseases/hepatitis-a
World Health Organization (2012). Hepatitis A, countries or areas at risk. Retrieved from: https://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_HepA_ITHRiskMap.png