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Hepatitis a

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Hepatitis A
SCI 162 PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS
April 6 2014
JULIE MORESCHI

What is hepatitis A? Hepatitis A is caused by a virus aptly named the hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis A virus infects the liver and causes inflammation in the liver. Hepatitis is a word used to describe inflammation of the liver and while there are more causes this work will focus on hepatitis A (HAV) the viral infection. HAV is food born pathogen. There are many causes of hepatitis, but hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the most common. The virus is picornavirus meaning it has a single strand of RNA and a protein shell around its genome.

How is the infection transmitted? The virus is spread through contaminated food, water, other drinks and even ice. It can also be spread by stool or blood. The virus is ingested with contaminated food or water. This can be from food that has come into contact with feces or stool. Hepatitis is more easily spread where there are poor hygiene and or poor sanitation standards. Even microscopic amounts of stool being ingested can infect a person. It can also be spread by sexual contact, more likely with oral/anal. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish from an infected water source can spread the virus as well.

Outbreak An outbreak in the United States as recently as 2013 was reported in ten states, including: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, and New Hampshire*, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin**. According to the CDC the outbreak is now over. The outbreak was 162 people throughout the ten states. The outbreak was believed to be from a shipment of pomegranate seeds from a foodstuff transport company from Turkey.
These pomegranate seeds were used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends and by Scenic Fruit Company to make the Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels – The CDC After being transported across the ocean and processes into a different food product and frozen the contamination was still present and capable of infecting people who ingested it.
*According to CDC the case in New Hampshire was from exposure on a trip to Nevada.
** According to the CDC the cases in Wisconsin were from product consumed while in California.

Clinical symptoms Symptoms from Hepatitis A can range from mild to severe. The symptoms can be so mild that you will not notice them. You can even show no symptoms. The virus can still be spread even if you are showing no symptoms but are infected. It will take anywhere from two to six weeks for symptoms to surface after infection. Most symptoms will not be too severe and they will generally go away on their own after time. The symptoms can include: * Fatigue * Diarrhea * Vomiting and/or nausea * Weak fever * Rash * Loss of appetite * Jaundice * Pale or grey stool * Dark brown urine * Abdominal pain The symptoms can last for up to 9 months in extreme cases. The general time table for an infection of hepatitis A is about 2 months. There is no treatment for Hepatitis A as it is viral and the body will dispose of it in about 2 months on its own.

Prevention There is a vaccine for hepatitis A. The vaccine must be taken before infection and is intended to prevent infection. If you do not have hepatitis A and want to prevent infection there are other prevention techniques besides a vaccination. Make sure to wash your hands regularly. Make sure to wash your hands before handling food. Clean food preparation surfaces with bleach. Make sure to cook food or water to high enough temperatures to kill the hepatitis A virus. The suggested temperature is 185 F. To help stem the possibility of infection from environmental sources prevention again is the best policy. In America there is little chance of food getting infected due to stringent regulations on food production and handling. But we can’t as easily regulate food being shipped in from less regulatory countries. Run off into rivers from animal waste is a big factor in waters becoming contaminated. Food producers need to make sure we use fresh and clean water in food processing. Pasteurization is very helpful in decontaminating food.

References eMedicineHealth . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/hepatitis_a/page11_em.htm#hepatitis_a_vaccine_and_prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html

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