How to Prevent Hepatitis A

How to Prevent Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver that can be spread in a multitude of ways. It’s not a prominent infection in many parts of the world, including the USA; however, it’s widespread in areas such as Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East, the Middle East, and Central and South America. As a result, you may be familiar with the infection from The Gambia aid campaigns and other charitable causes for developing countries. Therefore, if you’re planning to visit any of the aforementioned locations, you should ensure that you implement all measures to prevent the contraction of Hepatitis A.

Practice Good Hygiene

First thing’s first, you should practice good hygiene, as many cases of Hepatitis A are caused by close contact with an infected person. Therefore, you should wash your hands regularly. As a rule of thumb, you should wash your hands after using the toilet, before and after eating, after coming into physical contact with another person, and after touching surfaces. Despite this, it’s important to ensure that you’re washing with clean water, as contaminated water can also carry the infection.

Boil Water or Drink Bottled Water

As previously mentioned, some areas will pose a risk of Hepatitis A contaminated water. Consequently, you should boil any water ahead of drinking it to kill the infection, or drink solely sealed bottled water. This rule also applies to ice cubes, meaning that you should avoid drinking beverages with ice, unless you know that it has been made using boiled or bottled water.

Eat Cooked Food and Peeled Fruit

Consuming food that has been prepared by someone with the infection who hasn’t washed their hands properly or washed them in contaminated water poses another risk of becoming infected. As a result, you should eat cooked food as any bacteria will be killed during the cooking process, meaning that it’ll be safe for eating. Similarly, fruit that you peel yourself is safe for consumption, as only the skin will have been handled by potential carriers of the infection.  

Avoid Raw or Steamed Fish

It’s likely that fish in the highlighted areas will have lived in contaminated waters; these will remain contaminated if they aren’t cooked to kill any bacteria. Similarly, steaming involves cooking with water, which could also be contaminated. It might be a good idea to avoid eating fish as a whole in these areas, as even undercooked fish can still carry infection.

Get Vaccinated

The Hepatitis A vaccination isn’t routinely administered in the USA, as it’s not considered a common illness in this area. Despite this, it’s offered to those with an increased risk, most commonly, close contacts of someone with Hepatitis A. On top of this, individuals who are planning to visit or live in areas in which the infection is widespread will be encouraged to get the vaccine. Additionally, people with a long-term liver disease and people who may be exposed to Hepatitis A via their profession are also offered the vaccine. These high-risk workers include sewage workers and people who work closely with monkeys, apes, and gorillas. Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing the infection.

Treatments for Hepatitis A

Currently, there isn’t a known cure for Hepatitis A; however, it typically gets better on its own over the course of a couple of months. Those with the infection should get plenty of rest, take painkillers, stay in a cool, well-ventilated space and wear loose clothing, eat small meals, avoid alcohol, stay home, and practice good hygiene. After the two months, you’re not likely to suffer from any long-term effects, and you’ll develop a life-long immunity against the infection.

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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