Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that affects over a million people throughout the world each year. It causes the liver to swell and triggers symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, and nausea. Generally, the symptoms are mild and subside within a few weeks, but some cases can be serious.
Fortunately, if you understand how hepatitis A is transmitted, you may reduce your chances of acquiring it or passing it along if you should happen to get it.
Poor-Quality Drinking Water or Well Water
You may get hepatitis A from the water you drink. The United States has public water systems that provide residents with clean drinking water. These systems use measures like chlorination to rid water of viruses like hepatitis A. However, in other countries, water systems aren’t as advanced, and the drinking water can contain the virus.
It’s possible for the virus to contaminate well water, as well. The water can become contaminated through the fecal matter of infected humans. A poorly operating sewage system, sewage overflow, or contaminated stormwater runoff can enter the well and contaminate the drinking water.
Eating Contaminated Food
Some foods can contain the virus, such as raw shellfish. Shellfish becomes infected with the virus through sewage. Once you ingest raw shellfish, you then are exposed to hepatitis A. Fortunately, the shellfish cooking process kills hepatitis A. Specifically, when you cook something at over 185 degrees Fahrenheit for one minute, you kill the virus. Therefore, the boiling process will kill the virus.
Besides food that was contaminated before cooking it, a person can also develop hepatitis A from food that was handled by someone infected with hepatitis A. With this route of contamination, you consume food that someone handled who was infected with the virus and didn’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom. You can also catch the virus if you share utensils with someone who has hepatitis A.
Have Sexual Relations with an Infected Person
You can catch the virus if you participate in sexual activities with someone who has the virus. You’re more at risk for hepatitis A through sexual contact if you’re a man who has sexual relations with other men.
Don’t Have a Hepatitis A Vaccine
In the United States, children usually receive the vaccine before they reach two years of age. This exposes them to a harmless version of the virus, so if they happen to come in contact with it in the future, their immune system will recognize the virus and ward it off.
Hepatitis A Treatment by Experienced Gastroenterologists in Austin, TX
If you happen to contract hepatitis A or are at high risk for it, a gastroenterologist from our clinic can help. We can help protect you from hepatitis A or treat it if you have it. All gastroenterologists at our clinic are highly skilled and knowledgeable on hepatitis A and will help get you back to good health quickly.
Book an appointment today with Austin Gastroenterology, serving Austin and various locations throughout Texas, to discuss hepatitis A prevention and treatment by contacting one of our locations or using our online appointment scheduling form.