The Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is a non-enveloped, single stranded RNA virus that is classified in the Picornaviridae family. HAV is a liver disease that results from exposure to virus particles. The virus is primarily spread via the fecal-oral route—when an uninfected person ingests water or food that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person. HAV can be spread through contaminated water, inadequate sanitation, or poor personal hygiene by food handlers.
Severity of illness from HAV can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Symptoms of Hepatitis A include: fever, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, clay-colored bowel, and dark urine.
According to the World Health Organization, HAV is one of the most frequent causes of foodborne infection, with a yearly estimate of 1.4 million cases worldwide. The largest foodborne outbreak of HAV occurred in Shanghai in 1998, affecting 300,000 people. The source of that outbreak was determined to be clams harvested from sewage-polluted waters.
The most common sources of foodborne HAV contamination are oysters, mussels, fruits, and vegetables. Fresh produce, such as salad, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and vegetables, have increasingly been implicated in foodborne outbreaks of Hepatitis A.| | | Next → | Single Page