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. 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. Even so, about 20% of people who get hepatitis A get sick enough that they need to go to the hospital. There's a vaccine that can prevent it.
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: Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.
Statistics: The total number of hospitalized patients diagnosed with acute hepatitis A was 2395 (2.66/100 000 inhabitants); 61.5% were diagnosed in men. The highest rate corresponds to the group aged 20–39 years (4.01/100 000 inhabitants). When compared with year 2005 ascending tendencies in hospitalization was found for the year 2008 (incidence rate ratio 1.36 confidence interval 95% 1.32–1.39). Twenty-four deaths (1%) were reported out of the total of hospitalized patients. The median hospital stay was 5 days. An increase of cost from €1.272.608 in the year 2005 to €2.586.657 in 2008 was observed.