Hepatitis A is a condition caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is an infectious condition with few or no symptoms. The time between infection and the start of symptoms is approximately two to six weeks. Once the symptoms appear, it can last up to eight weeks. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of individuals have a recurrence of their symptoms within six months after infection. Hepatitis A usually resolves by itself but can also lead to acute liver failure.
Hepatitis A usually spreads via the consumption of food or water that is contaminated with infected feces. Another common source is insufficiently cooked shellfish. It can also spread from person to person through close contact. Infected children often do not have symptoms but are still able to infect others. After an individual is infected, he or she will be immune for the rest of his or her life.
The diagnosis can be achieved through blood tests. Vaccination is recommended as a means of prevention. In some countries, vaccination for hepatitis A is routinely recommended for younger children and those at risk. Other prevention methods include handwashing and cooking food thoroughly. While there is no specific treatment for hepatitis A infection, symptomatic treatments include rest, medications for nausea or diarrhea, and liver transplant (if liver failure occurs).
About 114 million hepatitis A cases occur every year, with 1.4 million that are symptomatic. This condition is most commonly found in areas with poor sanitation. It has been estimated that about 90 percent of children in the developing world are infected by the age of ten and, therefore, are immune by adulthood.
Hepatitis A Symptom #1: Fever and Chills
Fever, or pyrexia, is when the set point of body temperature increases. It is a nonspecific symptom that occurs in many conditions, such as viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections. Chills (a feeling of coldness) often accompany a fever.
As the body tries to produce and conserve more heat, the repeated muscle contractions caused by shivering help increase body temperature. A fever can occasionally cause febrile seizures, especially in younger children.