The pandemic has left children stuck at home for long, finding enjoyment only in e-learning, playing video games, using mobile phones and watching TV. There has been little opportunity for them to interact and play with friends outdoors. But life is gradually opening again, unlocking again. It’s a joyous time for kids especially as they are stepping out more now and indulging in activities important for their growth and well-being. While it’s wonderful to get back to life as we knew it, it’s extremely important for parents to keep an eye out for not just their safety from COVID-19 but also from other life-threatening diseases.
Going out for kids will also mean indulging in their favourite outside food. But this also means that there is an increased risk of food and water-borne diseases. One such disease is jaundice, commonly caused by the Hepatitis A virus, one that needs urgent attention.
Watch this video to know why.
What Is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that is caused by the Hepatitis A virus1. Its severity can range from a mild to severe illness which can last from a few weeks to months. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally more than 10 crore people get infected with Hepatitis A every year2. While this liver infection is generally considered mild and common among children, it can be serious in some cases3. Among older children and adults, infection usually causes more severe symptoms, jaundice being one of them occurring in more than 70% of cases4.
Hepatitis A infections do not cause chronic infections; however, they can be severe5. If left unchecked, in some cases, it can lead to severe complications like acute liver failure and even death in rare cases. Outbreaks occur worldwide, especially in areas with poor sanitation6. Therefore children, who are not previously exposed to this virus because of living in more hygienic urban areas may evade Hepatitis A infection in early childhood leaving them at risk of severe infection in adolescence and adulthood.7
How Does It Spread?
Hepatitis A spreads through ingestion of water and food contaminated with the Hepatitis A virus. It is primarily transmitted from person to person by the faecal-oral route or when someone ingests contaminated water, or foods that have not been prepared, stored or served in a hygienic manner1.
Watch Out for These Signs and Symptoms
Not everyone who is infected has symptoms. Symptoms (if developed) usually appear within 2 to 6 weeks after infection1. They can include:
- Grey-coloured stools
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
Remember, not everyone who is infected will show all the symptoms. In few cases, symptoms can last for as long as 6 months.1
Can It Be Prevented?
Yes, Hepatitis A infection can be prevented. The easiest ways to protect against hepatitis A are by1,2.
- Drinking clean water and cooking food well. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid raw meat and shellfish, and wash fruits and vegetables in clean water.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, changing a baby’s nappy and before cooking food and eating.
- Ensuring a hygienic environment in and around your home.
- Vaccination. This helps to protect your child against Hepatitis A.
Treatment for Hepatitis A
There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A and hence it is wise to prevent the disease by taking preventive measures. Vaccination is a reliable way to prevent Hepatitis A1-2.
When Can Hepatitis A Vaccination Be Given?
Vaccination against Hepatitis A can be given to children aged one year and above. Therefore, global and national health authorities like WHO and the Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommend Hepatitis A vaccination to all eligible children 2,7.
Consult Your Pediatrician for More Information
With this much-needed awareness around Hepatitis A, parents should seek the help of their doctors regarding prevention through vaccination to protect their kids.
As ‘Zindagi unlocks’, collective awareness, getting the right guidance, following precautions and health measures like vaccination, can keep children healthy and disease-free.
- https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Hepatitis A/afaq.html, Accessed on 24 th July 2021
Accessed on 24th July 2021
- Castaneda D, Gonzalez AJ, Alomari M, Tandon K, Zervos XB. From hepatitis A to E: A critical review of viral hepatitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2021;27(16):1691-1715
- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/hepa.html, Accessed on 24th July 2021
- https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a, Accessed on 24th July 2021
- https://www.iamat.org /country/india/risk/hepatitis-a, Accessed on 24th July 2021
- IAP-GUIDE-BOOK-ON-IMMUNIZATION-18-19.pdf (iapindia.org), Accessed on 29th July 2021
Disclaimer: Issued in public interest by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited. Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 030, India. Information appearing in this material is for general awareness only. Nothing contained in this material constitutes medical advice. Please consult your physician for medical queries, if any, or any question or concern you may have regarding your condition. Please consult your Pediatrician for the complete list of Vaccine-preventable diseases and the complete vaccination schedule for each disease. Please report adverse events with any GSK product to the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been produced on behalf of GSK by Times Internet’s Spotlight team. CL NO– NP-IN-HAV-PINF-210001, DOP- October, 2021