The Dangers of Hepatitis A and Its Outbreaks

Hepatitis A is one of five human hepatitis viruses that mostly infect the human liver and eventually leads to illness.Nations with developed sanitation systems such as the United States, have rare occurrences of Hepatitis A.However, there have been several reports of outbreaks and illnesses from Hepatitis A in many states. Each year, an estimated one hundred persons die as a result of severe liver failure in the United States due to Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is totally preventable; therefore cases, and especially outbreaks centered towards food consumption, should not occur.
The Hepatitis A virus or "HAV" is heat stable and will survive for up to a month at ambient temperatures in the environment.Hepatitis A is spread almost entirely through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or by means of contaminated food or water.It is a contagious disease that is not acquired from animals, insects, or by other means.The symptoms for Hepatitis A includes fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, abdominal pain or cramping, tea colored urine, gray or white stools, diarrhea, and a yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice).
Food contaminated with the virus is the most common means of transmitting Hepatitis A.The individual most often contaminating the foods is the food preparer or cook.This individual is normally not ill, but the peak time of contamination is during the two weeks before illness begins.Outbreaks associated with food have been increasingly implicated as a significant source of Hepatitis A infection.Such outbreaks are usually associated with contamination of food during preparation by an HAV-infected food handle.
Although ingestion of contaminated food is the most common means of spread for Hepatitis A, it may also commonly be spread by household contact among families or roommates, sexual contact, by the ingestion of contaminated water, by the ingestion of raw or undercooked…

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