Health officials in Costa Rica are reporting an outbreak of hepatitis A in the canton, or municipality of Aserri in San Jose province, according to Costa Rican Times report yesterday.
The report notes there have been 61 confirmed cases, which health officials believe is linked a water source shared by La Piedad and Bella Vista.
Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause a liver infection. Symptoms can last a few days to several months. The virus is rarely fatal and most people develop lifetime immunity following infection. Hepatitis A can be serious however, especially for older people and those with chronic liver disease. For these individuals, there is a greater risk of hospitalization and death. Most people who are infected recover completely. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and death from hepatitis A infection is rare.
Symptoms can begin 15 to 50 days after becoming infected. It is also possible to be infected and not have any symptoms. For symptomatic individuals, the severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of hepatitis A include: Fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, dark urine, stomach pains and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted by a fecal-oral route either through contaminated drinks or food such as shellfish, or directly from person to person.