How to Prevent and Control Hepatitis A?

Definition of Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease caused by hepatitis HAV.

Hepatitis A virus
Fig: Hepatitis A virus

Agent’s Factors of Hepatitis A:

  • Agent: Causative agent is HAV.
  • Resistance: The virus is resistance to heat and chemical.
  • Reservoir of infection: Human cases only.
  • Period of infectivity: 2 weeks before and 1 week after the onset of jaundice.
  • Infective materials: Human faeces, Blood, Serum and body fluids.

Host Factors of Hepatitis A:

  • Age: All age groups can be affected. More frequent among children than adult.
  • Sex: Both sexes can be equally affected.

Mode of Transmission of Hepatitis A:

  • Faeco oral route,
  • Parenteral route (through blood or contaminated by needle),
  • Sexual route.

Incubation period: 2 – 6 weeks

Sign and Symptoms of Hepatitis A:

Symptoms may be mild or even no symptoms, but the person faeces are still infectious to others. The usual features are:

  • A short, mild, flu-like illness: Fever, chills, malaise and fatigue,
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Weight loss,
  • Dark urine and jaundice,
  • Itchy skin,
  • Abdominal pain.

Investigation of Hepatitis A:

  • Anti HAV,
  • Serum bilirubin,
  • SGPT and SGOT.

Treatment of Hepatitis A:

There is no specific treatment for HAV. The disease is self-limiting and returns to normal within a couple of months. Only severely affected patients need hospitalization. General plan of treatment are

  1. Protein restricted and no spicy foods
  2. Light diet supplemented by fruits, plenty of fluids, ORS, dab water and glucose drinks.
  • If severe vomiting: IV fluid and anti-emetic.
  • Drugs: Sedatives, hypnotics, and diuretics, are usually avoided. It diuretics are to be used potassium sparing diuretics should be used.
  • Clinical and biochemical follow up.

How to Prevent and Control Hepatitis A Virus?

Preventive and controlling measures of HAV:

1. Proper sanitation:

  • Proper excreta disposal,
  • Improving water supply,
  • Maintenance of hygiene (personal and environmental),
  • Sanitary improvements of food stores and kitchen.

2. Health education about:

  • Proper disposal of excreta,
  • Use of safe drinking water and sanitary latrine,
  • Food handlers should be educated in matters of food hygiene,
  • Adequate breast feeding and improved weaning practices.

3. Timely control of epidemics: By strengthening of epidemiological surveillance systems.

4. Screening of blood donors for HAV.

5. Vaccination: Vaccine for HAV is available but not for HEV.

6. Fly control: Controlling breeding of flies in association with faeces and dirty water.

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