Just when we thought we more or less learned to live with a virus as dangerous as the Coronavirus, we are getting some bad news. The National Medical Officer has sent a circular to health institutions in the capital warning that infectious hepatitis A is increasingly being detected in patients.
Hepatitis A – new variant?
According to Népszava, Cecília Müller, National Medical Officer, asked the doctors of the institutions to inform their patients about how the virus is transmitted and how to prevent it. The medical officer said that 346 cases had been reported this year by the beginning of August 2022.
This is considered high because the number of hepatitis A-related cases has been falling rapidly in recent years, from 699 cases in 2016 to only 28 in 2020. Last year, there was only a slight increase, with a total of 75 cases reported. In comparison, 346 cases in less than seven months seems extremely high, leading experts to suspect that a new virus variant may have emerged in Hungary, writes Index.
According to Müller, the disease has been detected in many places across the country, but the outbreak mainly affects Budapest, with more than half of the 346 cases reported in the capital.
How is it transmitted? What are the symptoms?
Lajos Ócsai, the former head of the epidemiological department of the National Public Health Centre (ÁNTSZ), told Népszava that the infectious hepatitis virus is shed in faeces and is passed through the mouth with dirty hands or food and drink contaminated with faeces. In developing countries, contaminated drinking water and inadequately heated food are the most common causes of the spread of infection.
The virus can be spread through direct contact or sexual intercourse. It is very important to note that sex is NOT the only way the hepatitis A can be spread.
The expert also said that this is a long-latent virus, with an incubation period of up to fifteen to thirty days. It starts with a fever, loss of appetite, weakness and abdominal pain for a few days. These are then followed by loss of appetite, vomiting, pain or tenderness in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark-coloured urine, light-coloured stools, jaundice or yellowing of the eyes.
How can we prevent it?
Thorough hand washing and washing vegetables and fruit in running water are very important in preventing the spread of infection. According to Lajos Ócsai, the virus can cause widespread epidemics, especially among people living in poor social conditions.
The expert said that children are often asymptomatic but can transmit the virus even when they are mildly ill. It should be noted, however, that the situation with the current outbreaks is not quite what the expert told Népszava, writes Index. This spring and summer, the hepatitis variant, which is also spreading in Europe, has already caused serious illnesses in children, resulting in liver transplants, and in several cases minors have died from the infection.
There is a vaccine, but not for free
Ócsai said that the infection can be prevented by vaccination. There are two vaccines available in pharmacies to prevent hepatitis A. However, they require a prescription and two shots to be protected. No subsidy is included in the price of the vaccine though.
Unless the epidemiological service registers the patient as infected, in which case the medical officer must vaccinate the surrounding area free of charge. “And if you are going on holiday to a country where hygiene conditions are not guaranteed, you are advised to be vaccinated against the virus in the first place,” the expert said.
Read alsoHuge developments concerning taxiway, runway begin at Budapest Airport
Source: Index, Népszava
Meanwhile, in Hungary, fast foods like kebabs or burger places keep touching food without gloves. It seems in Hungary even after COVID nobody learn the lesson. Authorities should make the use of disposable gloves mandatory for all food providers. In other countries you see the kebabs, burgers or any kind of food preparations with gloves except for Hungary. U can be sure that those workers touch money, scratch any part of their bodies and then touch the food.
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the poo of an infected person, and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.
It can last for a while p, and in few cases can be severe….but
It is NOT deadly.
Dear Rumdoodle, unfortunately in the case of children it can cause life-threatening liver malfunction. There have been several registered cases.
But then you have to regurlarly change your disposable gloves for new ones and I see generally people do not do that.
It always strikes me that people put those things on and keep them on all day so then the effect is still zero. Believe me I know
this from experience I saw it with my own eyes.