Hepatitis A virus is contagious and can be transmitted in various ways. Hepatitis A virus infection is basically associated with a lack of proper hygiene, poor sanitation, lack of safe drinking water, and contaminated food.
The transmission of Hepatitis A virus from one person to another is usually completed when even a small amount of feces of an infected person enters or gets into the mouth of an uninfected person. Consequent upon the above, there are various ways that Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted. They are:
Partaking in oral-anal sex
When a person infected with Hepatitis A virus engages in oral-anal sex with an uninfected person, the uninfected person stands a huge risk of getting the feces of the infected person in his/her mouth and is put at a great risk of being infected with Hepatitis A virus.
To avoid this from happening, abstinence from oral-anal sex is strongly advised and in the alternative, the infected person should get vaccinated against Hepatitis A virus before indulging in oral-anal sex. It is also recommended that protective devices like dental dam be used properly while engaging in oral-anal sex.
Eating undercooked or raw food
Consuming raw or undercooked shellfish like clams, oysters, winkles, mussels, shrimps, crabs, scallops, etc., puts the consumer at risk of contracting Hepatitis A virus. Shellfish live in water and if peradventure the water (due to poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation) is contaminated with Hepatitis A virus through infected fecal matters, the shellfish may come in contact with the virus. When this shellfish is eaten raw or undercooked, it makes the consumer susceptible to contracting Hepatitis A virus.
To prevent this from occurring, the habitat of shellfish that serves as a source of food should be kept under good and proper hygiene to avoid the shellfish from being a conduit, spreading the virus. Another way of preventing Hepatitis A virus from being spread through undercooked or raw food is by adequately cooking the shellfish before consumption.
Drinking water or other liquid contaminated with fecal matters
Intake of water or other liquid polluted by fecal matters puts the consumer at a great risk of contracting Hepatitis A virus. Thus, where the water or other liquid is polluted by fecal matters from the stool of a person infected with Hepatitis A virus and consumed by an uninfected person, the person may become infected. Water or other consumable liquids should be well treated in a hygienic environment before drinking to avoid becoming infected with Hepatitis A virus.
Diluting intravenous drugs with contaminated water
Some intravenous drugs require water as diluents before administration. If the water used as a diluent of an intravenous drug is contaminated with Hepatitis A virus, the person on whom the drug is administered might be infected with the virus. To avoid transmitting Hepatitis A virus to an uninfected person through intravenous drug administration, the proposed water to be used as a diluent should be treated properly in a hygienic environment.
Close personal contact with an infected person
Staying close to a person that is infected with Hepatitis A virus puts one at risk of contracting the virus. A caregiver that caters to the needs of a Hepatitis A virus patient is susceptible to contracting the virus due to the close personal contact the personal encounters with the patient. To prevent being infected with Hepatitis A virus, the caregiver should take extreme precautionary measures before handling anything that might have come in contact with fecal matter of the Hepatitis A virus patient. Also, the caregiver should wash his/her hands with soap after handling a Hepatitis A virus patient. Hand sanitizers should also be used frequently.
Poor personal hygiene and inadequate sanitation
Poor personal hygiene and inadequate sanitation leave bathrooms or restrooms and the environments dirty and unkempt. These poorly kept bathrooms or restrooms and environments transmit Hepatitis A virus from a person infected with Hepatitis A virus to other users of the unhygienic and poorly sanitized bathrooms, restrooms and environments.
The risk of transmission of Hepatitis A virus is heightened by inadequate sanitation as contaminated fecal matter are left behind by persons infected with Hepatitis A virus and picked up by other uninfected persons who share these inadequately sanitized bathrooms, restrooms, and environments. Such environments, especially bathrooms or restrooms, should be properly cleaned and sanitized to prevent the arbitrary spread of diseases, especially Hepatitis A virus.
Though a minute fraction of people infected with Hepatitis A virus could die from acute liver failure (fulminant hepatitis), an epidemic of Hepatitis A virus can be disastrous and cause substantial damage to a community. This calls for more education and community awareness in the cities, suburbs, and rural areas.