Sample Health Care Essay Paper on Hepatitis A in Our Foods

            Hepatitis A infection is a public health issue. Purcell isolated it in 1973. Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is a highly communicable liver infection which is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and ranges from a mild to severe illness that may last for several months depending on the availability of treatment. It is a single-stranded, positive-sense enterovirus with a linear RNA. It belongs to the family Picornaviridae and relies on liver cells uptake and synthesis for its viral replication in the liver cells.

            Over the past years, the number of cases of patients with Hepatitis A has reduced in the United States. There has been a decrease of more than 90%. Some of the initial outbreaks that occurred in the United States were related to the wars which occurred during the 20th century where Americans participating in the wars returned from high endemic areas with the disease. In 1988 the number of cases reported for Hepatitis A in the United States were 27,000 and 7653 in 2003. There is currently an estimate of about 3000 cases each year with the decline in the number of new cases being associated with the vaccination provided to children and those who are at risk of contracting the disease. Many of the new cases being managed in the country are from American travelers who contracted the disease while traveling to Hepatitis A susceptible areas in the world.

            Those at a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis A include individuals traveling to countries where it is common among people living in these countries, sexual contact with an infected individual, men who have sexual encounters with fellow men, people who use recreational drugs, having disorders of the clotting-factor, and individuals living with infected people. Individuals aged between 5 and 14 years have a higher likelihood of acquiring this disease before receiving vaccinations.

            Some of the behaviors that contribute to the spread of Hepatitis A include poor sanitation practices such as not washing hands properly by an infected person after going to the bathroom and touching food or other objects. Other contributing behavioral factors include poor sanitation practices by the caregiver after cleaning the stool of an infected person and engaging in sexual activities with someone who has been infected. Contaminated food and water can also contribute to the spread of Hepatitis A.

            Hepatitis can be prevented through vaccination. This vaccination is recommended for all children at the age of 1 year. People with specific risk factors such as those living with infected people, people whose immunity is compromised by a condition or those traveling to countries where this condition is common should also be vaccinated. Even when the travelers are traveling for a short time to areas where the rates of this disease are high, the vaccination is still recommended.

            Family and caregivers of children adopted from countries where Hepatitis A is common, men who have sexual intercourse with other men, and people who use recreational drugs should also be vaccinated against Hepatitis A virus. Individuals who have a chronic long-term liver disease also increases the risk of contracting Hepatitis A and as such these people should e vaccinated. The vaccination is given as two injections which are six months apart. Both injections are required for long-term protection of Hepatitis A.

            Most people believe that Hepatitis A is transmitted only through sexual contact with infected people. Patient education is important in preventing the spread of Hepatitis A. Travelers, for instance, should be educated about practicing proper hygiene and using clean and safe water supplies. Advice should be provided to all travelers regardless of having the benefit of immunity against the diseases especially in travelers traveling to high-risk regions. I would advise travelers and those living in high-risk areas to avoid uncooked foods, raw shellfish, and the use of uncontrolled water sources. If they cannot obtain clean water, I would advise them to boil their drinking water and ensure that they wash and peel fruits.

            The target audience for this type of education would be people living in countries where Hepatitis A is prevalent, travelers planning to visit countries with high rates of Hepatitis A, primary health care practitioners or any other groups of people working in such areas, and families or caregivers providing care for individuals with Hepatitis A.

            Some of the behaviors that need to change to reduce the risk of Hepatitis A infection include maintaining proper hygiene such as proper washing of hands after using the bathroom or cleaning the stool of infected people, use of clean water from controlled water sources or boiling of drinking water and avoiding consumption of undercooked meals. Proper washing of vegetables and fruits can also reduce the risk of Hepatitis A. Avoiding behavior such as having sexual interaction with infected people, using recreational drugs, and contact of infected people can also reduce the risk of infection. Ensuring that each child at the age of one year and those at higher risk of contraction Hepatitis A are vaccinated can also reduce the risk of Hepatitis A.