Hepatitis A: What you should know

Our Physicians, Topics
Dr. Anthony Ognjan

Making headlines recently, hepatitis A is a communicable disease affecting the liver, causing mild to severe illness that causes symptoms of pain in the abdomen, joints and muscles, gastrointestinal distress, fever, fatigue and liver malfunction.

Although the illness is treatable with medical intervention, it can also be prevented.

"The best way to prevent against hepatitis A is to get vaccinated," said Dr. Anthony Ognjan, an internal medicine physician and infectious diseases specialist at McLaren Macomb. "Hepatitis A is very rarely fatal, but its symptoms are debilitating, so the best course of action would be to not even let it get that far and prevent it early through your scheduled vaccinations."

Patients contract hepatitis A through the consumption of contaminated food or water or direct contact with an infected person. Unsafe food and water handling practices and poor personal hygiene aid in the disease's spread. Due to its long incubation period of 30 days (or longer), symptoms will not immediately manifest.

"There is a very high recovery rate from hepatitis A with virtually no lasting symptoms except lifetime immunity against the disease," Dr. Ognjan.

Mostly contained the developing countries, small outbreaks can evolve within developed countries. When traveling abroad, Dr. Ognjan stresses getting inoculated.