Hepatitis A, also known as infectious hepatitis, is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A virus is a RNA virus that belongs to the genus hepatovirus of the Picornavirus family.
The virus is commonly spread when someone ingests foods or water that is contaminated the feces of an infected person or in close contact with the infected person. For this reason, the disease is thought to occur in areas where there are poor sanitary and hygienic conditions or where hepatitis A is common.
When someone is infected with the hepatitis A virus, the virus enters their liver cells from the blood and then it uses those cells to multiply itself. As more and more of the hepatitis A virus is made in the liver cells, your body will start to show signs of dealing with the infection. These generally last for one to two months, but in several cases, symptoms may last six months or more. The infected person can transmit the virus to others for as long as two weeks before any symptoms appear.
Risk Factors for Hepatitis A
Although anyone can get Hepatitis A, but you’re at higher risk if you are:
- Having sex with a partner who has hepatitis A
- Living in areas with high rates of hepatitis A
- Regularly injecting illegal drugs
- Working near sewage (untreated sewage is often contaminated by hepatitis A)
- Having haemophilia – people with this blood clotting disorder often require a type of medication called a clotting agent, which can sometimes become infected with the hepatitis A virus.
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