Hepatitis A Infections Lead to Serious Illnesses
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis virus, which is primarily spread when an unvaccinated person ingests food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.
The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene. The hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, however, it can cause debilitating symptoms and acute liver failure in rare cases.
Hepatitis A occurs sporadically worldwide and is one of the most frequent causes of foodborne infection. Epidemics related to contaminated food or water can erupt and affect thousands of people. Hepatitis A viruses persist in many environments and can withstand safety processes routinely used to control bacterial pathogens.
The disease can lead to significant public health consequences in communities. It can take weeks or months for people to recover from the illness and return to work or school. The impact on local productivity can be substantial.
Who is at Risk of Hepatitis Infection?
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can be infected with a hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is endemic, most infections will occur during early childhood. Risk factors include:
- Poor sanitation
- Lack of safe water
- Use of recreational drugs
- Living with an infected person
- Being a sexual partner of an infected person
- Travelling to endemic areas without being immunized
Hepatitis A is transmitted primarily by the fecal-oral route when a person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person.
Waterborne outbreaks are associated with sewage or inadequately treated water. The virus can be transmitted through close physical contact, although casual contact among people does not usually spread the virus.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Symptoms of hepatitis A range from mild to severe, and symptoms generally present between 14 and 28 days after exposure. Not everyone who is infected will have all of the classic symptoms. When symptoms do show, they may include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Intense itching
Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more frequently than children. Symptoms may be mild and dissipate in a few weeks, or hepatitis A infection can result in a severe illness that lasts several months.
The severity of disease is higher in older age groups. Infected children under six years old do not usually experience serious symptoms. Among older children and adults, infection usually causes more severe symptoms, with jaundice occurring in more than 70 percent of cases.
If you or a loved one has suffered from Hepatitis A or another a foodborne infection, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.