I had the hepatitis A virus, which is a gastrointestinal virus that people who provide childcare sometimes contract. One of the most frustrating challenges of dealing with the disease was feeling perpetually tired. I felt as though I had a case of the flu that I couldn’t shake.
I most likely picked up the virus when working in a group home for children with special needs when I was in my 20s. I often had to clean the bathrooms. Even though I usually wore gloves, I could have consumed foods that had been touched by infected persons or inadvertently touched laundry that was contaminated by the virus. I also could have contracted it by eating contaminated shellfish. I was diagnosed by a simple blood test. Because I had Hepatitis A, I should be immune forever. Fortunately, I didn’t have to be hospitalized with the virus. And my pain and fatigue only lasted about a week.
Recognizing the symptoms
Not everyone who has hepatitis A has any symptoms such as feeling tired, vomiting, experiencing join pain, fever and jaundice or yellowish eyes. My doctor told me even though I didn’t have all the symptoms, I was still contagious. He said there was about a 50-day period in which I could be contagious. I had to use utmost care to practice good hygiene and avoid going out in public as a courtesy to others.
Preventing the spread
When I had children late in life, I was careful to avoid taking them to public pools since people can contract hepatitis A by swallowing water that is contaminated by the feces of an infected person. They can also get it by eating shellfish that had not been cooked well enough because such foods can be infected by sewage. I also asked my doctor to make sure my children were immunized at the right time to prevent contracting Hepatitis A.
Having an acute liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus or HAV was not a picnic, but I was fortunate to recover without any major problems. It’s ironic that I may have contracted it while cleaning and trying to create a more sanitary situation. It’s a challenge for anyone who is a caregiver or works in the medical profession to avoid the virus, which is why they should be immunized. It’s easy to pass HAV to other people in the same household. Nowadays, more people including those in the medical field receive the immunization. My doctor at the time said there wasn’t any way to treat the disease other than to rest. He warned that I could still get other kinds of hepatitis even though I’d never get hepatitis A again. He said hepatitis A is not a chronic infection so I wouldn’t be plagued with it for a long time. I’m blessed that it’s not a chronic disease. I had a complete recovery.