On World Hepatitis Day we discuss the steps you can take to prevent the Hepatitis A infection.
1. The most important step is to get vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus. It is typically given in two doses- an initial vaccination, followed by a booster shot six months later. It is recommended that all children older than age 1 receive it. People at a higher risk for hepatitis should receive the vaccine as well. You may be at a higher risk if you work in health care or are a laboratory worker who may come in contact with the virus, have chronic liver disease, use illegal drugs (both injected and non-injected) or if you are a man who has sex with men.
2. You must practice good hygiene and thoroughly wash your hands often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper, and before preparing food or eating.
3. It is also important to avoid unclean food and water like dairy products or raw/undercooked meat and fish. If bottled water isn’t available, boil water for a full minute before drinking it.
4. The spread of hepatitis A can be reduced by proper disposal of sewage within communities as well.
5. If you travel or work in areas where hepatitis A is common, it is important to get vaccinated. These areas include Africa, Eastern Europe, The Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America and Asia.