Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is primarily spread when an uninfected (and unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.
Symptoms: The incubation period of hepatitis A is usually 14–28 days. Symptoms of hepatitis A range from mild to severe, and can include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and dark-coloured urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Causes: Hepatitis A usually get it when you eat or drink something that's got the virus in it. It's the least risky type because it almost always gets better on its own. It doesn't lead to long-term inflammation of your liver.
Diagnosis: Hepatitis A is not clinically distinguishable from other types of acute viral hepatitis. Specific diagnosis is made by the detection of HAV-specific IgM and IgG antibodies in the blood. Additional tests include reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the hepatitis A virus RNA, but may require specialised laboratory facilities. Treatment: There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months. Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.
Statistics: The incidence of indigenous hepatitis A cases per 100,000 population declined significantly from 1.8 in 1989 to 0.7 in 2009, and more than half were imported. While majority of the imported cases were Singapore residents, the proportion of imported cases among Singapore residents had decreased significantly. Most of the Singapore residents contracted the disease from Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The overall prevalence of HAV infection in the population declined from 31.8% in 1984/85 to 25.9% in 1993.