Hepatitis A: What is it and how can it be prevented?

Hepatitis A is a disease caused by a virus that directly affects the liver and is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water or direct contact with an infected person.

Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and acute, life-threatening liver failure.

spread of the virus

Hepatitis A virus is mainly transmitted by the fecal-oral route, when an uninfected person ingests water or food contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

In households, this can happen due to dirt on the hands of those responsible for cooking or handling food. Although waterborne transmission is rare, when it does occur it is usually associated with contaminated sewage or improperly treated water supplies. It is also spread sexually: penetrative anal or anal sex with an infected person.

Virus particles can also be spread from contaminated surfaces, such as contaminated kitchen utensils and tables. This is why prevention and awareness-raising, especially handwashing, is so important”, Nutrition graduate Marilina Suárez explains.

I added: “The foods and drinks most associated with the outbreak are water, shellfish and vegetables that grow in the ground. Cold cuts, sandwiches, fruit, juice, milk, dairy products and iced drinks are also affected.

common symptoms

Symptoms typically include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal, muscle and joint pain, and yellowing of the eyes and skin. Also, during the first few days, the urine may be black and the stools may be white. Infected people do not always have all of these symptoms.

Infection in girls and boys under six years of age is usually asymptomatic, but signs and symptoms appear more frequently with age. Hepatitis A can be diagnosed with a specific blood test that can be performed at any hospital or health center across the country.

There is no specific treatment, however, if the diagnosis is positive, rest and no physical activity is required while the infection is in progress.

Nutritionist Suarez also recommends “avoiding alcohol and medications that can be toxic to the liver”. Severe hepatitis can cause fulminant liver failure and require hospitalization.

The best form of prevention is vaccination. In Argentina, the vaccine is free and included in the national vaccination calendar: one dose per year.


▪ Wash your hands properly and often, mainly after handling unhygienic items and before preparing food.

▪ Cook food well until it reaches 85°C for at least 4 minutes before eating.

▪ If you don’t know where your drinking water came from, either boil the water for 3 to 5 minutes and let it cool, or add two drops of concentrated bleach containing 55 g/l active chlorine to each liter of water and let it sit for a while. Serve after 30 minutes.

▪ Maintain sanitation by disinfecting surfaces with water and concentrated bleach diluted to 1%.

Source link

Leave a Comment