Hepatitis A usually spreads through faecal-oral transmission. The Department of Infectious Disease at Singapore General Hospital explains the symptoms of Hepatitis A and its treatment methods.
Your chances of getting infected by the hepatitis A virus increase if you travel often and consume plenty of raw or partially cooked shellfish. But you don’t have to quell your wanderlust or your love of seafood if you take some basic precautions against hepatitis A infection.
“Plan to have hepatitis A vaccination one to two weeks before travelling, particularly if you are visiting places where sanitary conditions and hygienic practices are poor,” says Dr Limin Wijaya, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.
A booster shot (given six months later) could give you immunity for another 20 years.
Maintaining good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands after visiting the toilet, and avoiding raw foods and unbottled water when you are overseas, are among other precautions you can take to prevent a hepatitis A infection.
Most reported cases of hepatitis A infection acquired in Singapore are due to eating contaminated raw or partially cooked cockles or oysters.
According to government statistics, a total of 3,023 cases of acute hepatitis A were reported between 1989 and 2010. Overall, 49 per cent of these cases were classified as imported (acquired abroad). The rate was highest between the ages of 25 to 34. For every female, 2.3 males were infected.