Posted by: Charlie | 2007/11/30

Hepatitis A

Hi, my husband has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. The docter said that it is contagious for a month, and that he may not have contact with other people during this time. This is spoiling our holiday plans so I would just like to make sure before cancelling everything.
1. How soon after being vaccinated are you protected?
2. For how long does the virus remain viable once outside the body?
3. What is meant by "contact"? Does it mean touching and sharing cutlery or just being in the same room?
Can you please also make a suggestion where I can find information on safe and ideal food to give to my husband which won't place his liver under further strain?
Thank you very much!

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Our expert says:
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Dear Charlie

Thank you for visiting

Hepatitis A (formerly known as infectious hepatitis) is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatovirus hepatitis A virus. Most commonly transmitted by the fecal-oral route, such as contaminated food, hepatitis A does not typically have a chronic stage and does not cause permanent liver damage. The patient's immune system makes antibodies against the hepatitis A virus that confer immunity against future infection. Some vaccines remain effective for a lifetime, while others have to be updated after a few months or years.

Symptoms of hepatitis A may be mistaken for flu. Some sufferers, especially children, may exhibit no symptoms at all. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 6 weeks after start of infection.

Symptoms may return over the following 36 months and may include:

Abdominal pain
Appetite loss
Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes.
Sharp pains on the lower right side of the torso (the liver)

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Sufferers are advised to rest, avoid fatty foods and alcohol (these may be poorly tolerated for some additional months during the recovery phase and cause minor relapses), eat a well-balanced diet, and stay hydrated. Approximately 15% of people diagnosed with hepatitis A may experience one or more symptomatic relapse(s) for up to 24 months after contracting this disease.

Hepatitis A can be prevented by good hygiene and sanitation. Vaccination is also available, and is recommended in areas where the prevalence of hepatitis A is high. To prevent it, use your own towels and toothbrushes, eating utensils, and other personal products. Always wash your hands after and before eating and more importantly after using the toilet.

Theiss Hepatitis A vaccine, Avaxim, protects against the virus in more than 95% of cases and provides protection from the virus for ten years. The vaccine contains inactivated Hepatitis A virus providing active immunity against a future infection.

Kind regards

Dr Anrich Burger

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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