What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a hepatitis virus. The three most common types in the U.S. are Hepatitis A, B, and C.
This is the most common type of Hepatitis. It occurs when a person is infected by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) and it does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease. Transmission can occur through fecal-oral exposure either by person-to-person transmission between household contacts, by sex contact, or by ingesting contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is highly contagious in close personal contact with an infected individual. This is the only Hepatitis virus that can be transmitted through food. It has an incubation period of about 28 days and most begin recovery within three weeks, but some may have recurring symptoms for up to six months. There is no treatment for HAV, but it can be prevented with the Hepatitis A vaccine. Good hygiene and sanitation help prevent Hepatitis A (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can be acute or chronic. Acute symptoms can last for several weeks or up to 6 months. 95 percent of adults infected will recover completely and not become chronically infected (CDC, 2011). A lifelong infection can result in cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. The only way HBV is transmitted by contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. The rates of new HBV infections have declined since routine vaccinations of children have been recommended (CDC, 2011).
HCV is a liver disease transmitted by direct contact with infected blood or body fluids. HCV infects through the use of injected street drugs, receiving contaminated blood or organs, frequent contact with blood on the job (accidental needle-sticks), having sex with a person infected, and sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with someone infected with HCV. Those with chronic HCV infection can have a chronic liver disease which in severe cases can include cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Dealing With Hepatitis at Work
For the most part, those living with any Hepatitis type can perform their work normally and no one need know their health status. However, if your Hepatitis flares for several weeks and you need to miss work or you develop a chronic liver disease, then discussing the need to time off and disability with your employer is important. Some, not all, of those with Hepatitis are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Don’t wait any longer. Drop by your local ARCpoint Labs today or schedule an appointment for your Hepatitis test.