What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that is common in developing countries and is generally associated with poor sanitation and poor hygiene. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable illnesses in travelers. Hepatitis A occurs worldwide however, regions where there is a high risk of transmission include Africa, Asia and Central and South America.
How is it transmitted?
The hepatitis A virus is found in the feces of an infected person and can be spread through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected person.
Certain uncooked foods such as shellfish, fruits or salads can be contaminated, as well as foods that are prepared in unsanitary conditions or by an infected person with unsafe food handling practices. It can also be transmitted through close personal contact when poor hygiene is practice.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can take from 15 to 50 days to appear (average 28 days)
In children, symptoms are mild to non-existent. Severity of the illness increases with age.
Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, grey coloured
stool and jaundice
In severe and rare occasions, symptoms can include liver damage, liver failure, or death. Individuals with pre-existing chronic liver disease and older people are most at risk
Recovery generally takes a few weeks but can take months. Most people recover without side effects and have lifelong immunity against hepatitis A.
A map of countries and areas of risk for hepatitis A is available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
Source: © All Rights Reserved. Travel Health: Hepatitis A. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014. Reproduced with permission from the Minister of Health, 2014.
2/3 of Hepatitis A cases are associated with visiting friends and family in other countries.
It is estimated that over 1 million people contract
Hepatitis A each year.