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9 Things you need to know about the hepatitis A outbreak

9 Things you need to know about the hepatitis A outbreak

An outbreak of hepatitis A has worried the residents of the State of São Paulo. The region recorded a large increase in the number of cases, prompting the World Health Organization to issue an alert on the problem, which is also present in 15 other countries in Europe, Chile and the United States. According to an epidemiological bulletin from the Department of Health, 138 cases have been registered so far in 2017. During the past year, 68 cases have occurred in the State of São Paulo, less than half of this year. Health states that the public most affected is men between the ages of 20 and 49 who have had sex with other men. The investigation of suspected outbreaks in the city of São Paulo identified 101 cases of hepatitis A, where 80% of the occurrences are male. In the same period in 2016, 31 cases were reported. However, this is not the only form of contagion and there are still many doubts about this disease. So, we've gathered below the key information you need to prevent the spread of the disease:

1. Hepatitis A transmission only occurs in sexual relations between men?

Indeed, there are several forms of contagion. One is by the fecal-oral route, especially when there is intimate contact with the patient. In the outbreak of the disease that spread in the State of São Paulo, the main affected were men who had sex with other men, according to the Health Department of the State of São Paulo. It is worth mentioning that the transmission of the virus can occur even using preventive measures, such as the use of condoms, mainly due to fecal-oral contact during intercourse.

The disease can still be transmitted by ingestion of water or food contaminated with material fecal In general, this occurs in places without basic sanitation, when an infected person disposes of contaminated faeces in a water that other people will have access to and can ingest. Ingestion of raw food washed with this water can also spread the disease, as well as eating raw shellfish or seafood from a place with polluted water with sewage.

Contamination can also occur when someone who is contaminated goes to the toilet. sanitizes the hands properly and then handles food. Hepatitis A transmission often occurs in children, who often do not wash their hands well, pick up toys that other children will interact with, even putting them in their mouths, which can lead to the ingestion of the virus. . Does the person infected with hepatitis A need to be isolated?

"Not at all," says gastroenterologist Rafael Lima Kahwage. "No matter what the cause of hepatitis, whether by virus, alcohol, medications, there is no reason for isolation." The person with hepatitis should live normally, without major concerns and always having regular consultations with a gastroenterologist or hepatologist. . Kissing and sharing the toilet with a person with hepatitis A can transmit the disease? Since the transmission of hepatitis A is oro-fecal, then the contamination is made by ingesting some kind of contaminated fecal material. However, in maintaining intimate relationships with someone who has the disease, it is necessary to redouble the care with hygiene. "It is clear that intimate contact with an infected person can increase the chances of exposure, but with the right care there is no need to worry," says general practitioner Eduardo Finger. Is it possible to get hepatitis A by drinking straight into the soda bottle?

Hepatologist Débora Dourado explains that this is possible: "Any contaminated object that is taken to the mouth can transmit hepatitis A or E." Contamination may be due to the simple handling of the material by a person whose hands are contaminated. Always use straightened jars that are individually wrapped or thoroughly clean the jars with soap and water.5. Leaving fruits and vegetables in running water for one minute eliminates the risk of transmitting hepatitis A?

Even with organic food, not always the use of water in the wash that we are going to consume is sufficient. The infectologist Graziella Hanna Pereira recommends leaving fruits and vegetables soaked in water with sodium hypochlorite for about 30 minutes. If you can not use the product, it indicates the same process with the food without the shell immersed in the water. Other foods that will be boiled do not need the process, as the virus can not withstand the heat of the boiling water.

6. Can I get hepatitis A from the consumption of raw fish or other seafood?

Fish and seafood have an aggravating effect on the chances of contamination, as they may receive the virus through contact with the sewage, as it spreads through stool of the sick person. "Any food handled by contaminated people is subject to contain the virus," says the hepatologist Raymundo Paraná. When in doubt, ask for fried, cooked or baked food, as the virus is not resistant to high temperatures.

7. Is it possible to contract hepatitis A after handling money?

You may already imagine that money bills and coins are not exactly something clean, since they circulate between establishments and hands of people all over the country, inclusive. The infectologist Paulo Olzon points out that lack of hand hygiene is one of the main ways to contract hepatitis A. "So whenever you come back from the street, before you eat and after going to the bathroom, you should wash your hands," he says. Pay special attention to objects that are passed from hand to hand, such as money and public telephones.

8. Hepatitis A, a type of inflammation that affects the liver and is caused by the HAV virus, has no specific treatment but is usually cured spontaneously by the body in 90% of cases. To ease the process, recommendations are for rest, light feeding, and administration of medications that control symptoms.

9. Can I take the hepatitis A vaccine to prevent the disease?

The hepatitis A vaccine is not contraindicated, it is considered optional and is offered by the Unified Health System in 2014. The vaccine is given to children in the age group of one to two years of incomplete life - within the 12-month period. The vaccine is given by the Ministry of Health with medical indication in the following situations: people with chronic liver diseases; chronic hepatitis B or C carriers; coagulation problems; children under 13 years of age with HIV; adults with HIV and hepatitis B or C; genetic diseases or trisomies such as Down's Syndrome; people with cystic fibrosis; candidates for organ transplantation; transplant recipients and donors of organ or bone marrow; people with blood disorders and immunodepressed. Therefore, outside of these cases, there is no need to seek the vaccine.

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