Hepatitis: What’s in your food?

MaryKatherine Osborne, Contributor/Editor

October 13-24 Arkansas State University hosted the first outbreak of Hepatitis A in Northeast Arkansas. Since the outbreak began, 237 Hepatitis A reports have came in, evidently resulting in two deaths.

An inflammation of the liver, Hepatitis comes in five different types: A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A, B, and C take the top spot for most common hepatitis in the United States.

Hepatitis A causes an acute inflammation in the liver which almost always gets better on its own. However, the older the individual, the worse the condition.  

Easily spread person to person in food and water, Hepatitis A can infect many people at once. If a food handler such as a waiter becomes infected, whoever eats the food that the waiter handles can also end up afflicted. If any worker shows signs of hepatitis, dismissal is recommended for a minimum of 2 weeks, even including requirement of the vaccines.

Spread through blood or body fluids in various ways, Hepatitis B can begin as a short time illness and maybe even later advance to the chronic stage.

Acute Hepatitis symptoms can cause yellowing of the skin and eyes, nausea, fever, and fatigue; however, chronic Hepatitis often exhibits little to no symptoms. It may last many years and lead to cirrhosis of the liver, causing the liver to become heavily scarred and less functional.

Fortunately, both Hepatitis A and B become greatly preventable by vaccinations. Not preventable by vaccines, Hepatitis C remains almost always chronic and spreads only by blood. Many medications exist to help ease the pain for the different types of hepatitis.

Thankfully, if you get the Hepatitis vaccine, you will not have to worry where you eat, and you get up to 25 years of protection!