Hyderabad: Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections have gone up by almost 300 per cent in recent years, according to a report published online on May 9, 2019 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
HAV infection is caused by ingesting water or food contaminated by faecal matter or from being in close contact with someone who has been infected.
Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal.
Most people recover fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. However, a very small proportion could die from fulminant hepatitis.
The hepatitis A virus takes 14 to 28 days to incubate and the most common symptom is jaundice.
Fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark coloured urine are other symptoms.
B. Prabhakar, a consultant in medical gastroenterology at Apollo Hospitals, said HAV predominantly occurs in childhood and in a few young adults. “Most of them develop protective antibodies by the time they reach adulthood. That is why all children should be vaccinated with two doses of vaccine after they are one year old. It is also indicated for susceptible adult individuals who have not been exposed to HAV in childhood. But a large number of adults who did not receive the vaccine or have the infection as children, remain vulnerable to the virus from contaminated food.”
Experts stated there is no specific treatment for hepatitis and recovery from the infection is slow and often takes several weeks.
Dr S.G. Harsha, a senior general physician, says mainly children, pregnant women, and senior citizens, due to their lower immunity, are more vulnerable to the virus.
“People who frequently travel for work purposes to different states, and corporate employees, are also exposed to different foods and water and in case of contamination get affected.”