Prevention and treatment of hepatitis A and E
The most effective ways to decrease hepatitis A and E transmission are improved sanitation, food safety and basic hygiene practices. The risk of hepatitis A and E transmission and infection can be reduced by ensuring:
- adequate supplies of safe drinking water;
- proper disposal of sewage within communities;
- personal hygiene practices such as regular hand-washing with safe water, particularly before handling food;
- drinking safe water/ice;
- adhering to safe food handling practices.
Vaccination is another prevention method to combat hepatitis A and E:
- Several hepatitis A vaccines are available internationally. Some are combined with the hepatitis B vaccine. All are similar in terms of how well they protect people from the virus and their side-effects.
- Millions of people have been immunized worldwide against hepatitis A virus with no serious adverse events.
- In 2011, the first vaccine to prevent hepatitis E infection was registered in China. Although it is not yet available globally, it could potentially become available in a number of other countries.
There is no specific treatment for symptomatic hepatitis A and E. People who become infected with hepatitis E virus usually get better on their own, and generally do not need to be hospitalized. However, hospitalization is required for people with life-threatening disease from hepatitis, and should be considered for symptomatic pregnant women.
Prevention is the most effective approach against hepatitis A and E.
- Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months.
- Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.