Watch Your Mouth: Hepatitis A Case Found in Lubbock

Hepatitis A is usually spread by consuming food or drink handled by an infected person.

Hepatitis A is usually spread by consuming food or drink handled by an infected person.

The recent news of a Lubbock restaurant employee diagnosed with hepatitis A has brought up questions about the disease. Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the hepatitis A virus usually is spread by consuming food or drink that has been handled by an infected person or from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. Casual contact, as in the office or school setting, does not spread the virus.

Ron Warner, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, said symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, also may occur a few days after symptoms appear.

“Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider,” Warner said. “The incubation period, or time between exposure and symptoms, is typically 28 days. It is possible for hepatitis A to be active but not show symptoms for up to seven days.”

Symptoms usually last one to two weeks but can last longer. Young children with hepatitis A often have no symptoms.

According to the City of Lubbock Health Department, severe complications from hepatitis A are rare and occur more often in people who have liver disease or a weakened immune system. Anyone who has a history of previous hepatitis A or previously has received the hepatitis A vaccine is not at risk.

“You hear about the importance of hand washing,” Warner said. “Taking the time to wash your hands thoroughly can prevent so many diseases, in this case hepatitis A. Make sure you wash your hands after visits to the restroom, before touching any food or drink and after changing a diaper.”


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