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Hepatitis A and B
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Hepatitis A is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the liver and is caused by Hepatitis A virus (HAV).It is caused by fecal oral contamination. Once ingested, it continues through the blood stream and into various organs including the liver. Many symptoms can be expereinced when infected but will persist for no longer than 21 days. Vaccinations are available if a person is at risk of HAV. There is no specific treatment but once recovery takes place, a person will obtain lifelong immunity.
This research was of interest to me because I know several people traveling to other countries this summer and they all have to get Hepatitis vaccinations before their departure. In addition, I find a lot of interest in the way microbes effect the body and cause diseases. As I aspire to become a nurse, I enjoy finding out more about the human body. One of the most significant findings in my research was how different each strain of the Hepatitis virus are from one another. Both Hepatitis A and B have very different effects on the body. They are each transmitted in their own way and range differently in severity. Even though Hepatitis A virus is most often acute, it is something people should be aware of and taking precautions against, especially if at risk.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is the inflammation of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus also known as HAV. The virus causes the liver to swell and stop functioning correctly. HAV contains single stranded RNA and lacks an envelope. (Tortora, 764)
Transmission of Hepatitis A
HAV is transmitted by fecal oral contamination. It lives in the stool of infected host (Nemour Staff). Contaminated food and water is ingested by the host and results in Hepatitis A. When ingested, the virus multiplies within the epithelial lining of the host's intestines.The virus then enters the blood stream and is spread to the liver, kidneys, and spleen. It is shed through the feces but can be detected through the host's blood or urine. HAV is more commonly seen in lower socioeconomic groups but middle and upper class socioeconomic groups are suseptible as well. (Tortora, 764)
Numbers Regarding Hepatitis A
Approximately 32,000 people are infected with HAV per year in the US.
2,666 per month, 615 per week, 87 per day, 3 per hour (in 1992)
HAV cases make up for 38% of all Hepatitis cases per year.
("Statistics About Hepatitis A- Wrong Diagnosis.com)
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Symptoms of of Hepatitis A do not usually appear immediately. In fact, the amount of the virus in a host's body is greatest before symptoms are seen so the host may not even know they are sick. About 50% of Hepatitis A cases are subclinical, meaning they are asymtomatic. However, the other 50% of people who have clinical cases experience anorexia, malaise, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills. In some cases, patients may develop jaundice or even urine looking more dark in appearance (Tortora, 764). Symptomatic cases are more likely to be seen in adults. This virus has a very low mortality rate and only seems to give uncomfortable symptoms for 2 to 21 days; however, it is possible for symptoms to last for around 6 months (Division of Viral Hepatitis).
Prevention and Treatment
The HAV is usually shed within the acute stage of the disease and is very rarely a chronic disease (E Medicine Staff). When a patient is being diagnosed with Hepatitis A, they go through tests that look for IgM antibodies in the blood or urine. Because the incubation period of the virus is anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks, researchers have a hard time finding the source of the infection. There currently is not a specific treatment that exists but there are vaccines which contain immune globin and will provide protection for several months (Division of Viral Hepatitis). People traveling out of the country to areas of endemic disease, homosexual men, and injecting drug users should be sure to get vaccinated in order to eliminate their risk of catching the virus. After infected with the virus, recovery can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months but leaves the host with lifelong immunity.
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Division of Viral Hepatitis. "CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis - Hepatitis A FAQs for the Public."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. 23 June 2008. 14 May 2009
E Medicine Staff. "Hepatitis A Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention Information on eMedicineHealth.com."
. 14 May 2009
Marler, Bill. "Hepatitis A."
Marler Blog : Food Poisoning Lawyer & Attorney : Bill Marler : Marler Clark
. 28 Sept. 2007. 13 May 2009
Nemours Staff. "Hepatitis."
KidsHealth - the Web's most visited site about children's health
. 12 May 2009
"Statistics about Hepatitis A - WrongDiagnosis.com."
. 6 May 2009. 14 May 2009
Tortora, Gerard J., Berdell R. Funke, and Christine L. Case.
Microbiology An Introduction with CDROM
. Boston: Benjamin-Cummings Company, 2006.
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