It is possible now to vaccinate from hepatitis A which is a common food borne disease in the United States. There are actually 5 different types of human hepatitis viruses that infect the human liver and can cause illness. The hepatitis A virus is actually abbreviated HAV. HAV is found in the stool of a person with hepatitis A and can be spread with close personal contact.
The most common ways to spread HAV is through close personal contact, eating food and drinking water that is contaminated. Hepatitis A can cause the following symptoms:
- Severe abominable / stomach pains
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Flu-like symptoms
Those infected with Hepatitis A oftentimes end up in the hospital. In fact, one in 5 persons infected with hepatitis A end up in the hospital. There are 3-5 deaths per thousand. As a result, a person who has hepatitis A should be concerned because they can easily pass it to others within the same household. Fortunately there is a vaccine for HAV. Getting the hepatitis A vaccine is considered safer than getting the disease. Typically upon receiving the vaccination there is soreness where the shot was given temporarily, headaches, loss of appetite and tiredness that can last as long as one or two days. Some have severe reactions with the HAV vaccine and require immediate hospital attention.
Outbreaks have been traced to HAV from contaminated food by infected workers, food preparers and cooks. People that have acquired HAV may not even be aware of it for several weeks. In general a period of acute illness lasts approximately 10 days to 3 weeks and for some the blood tests will remain abnormal for over a month. Fortunately, most infected individuals recover. There is a greater chance in relapse in children and older adults.
Any food handlers should be excluded from work if they have infections and sexual partners should not take part in sexual contact while infected with HAV. The vaccine is recommended for those that are traveling to areas outside the country, those that partake in anal intercourse, injecting and non injecting drug users, individuals with blood clotting disorders and those with chronic liver disease.
Hopefully at some point the law will require food handlers to be vaccinated, as that will reduce significant amounts of the hepatitis A breakouts.