Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
(nonenveloped virus)

Hepatitis A viruses are non-enveloped viruses from the family of picornaviruses. Hepatitis A viruses are distributed worldwide and are of infectiological importance as the causing pathogens of hepatitis A.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 1.5 million annual cases of Hepatitis A worldwide [1].

After an incubation period of 28-30 days on average, a non-specific feeling of illness may be the first symptom to appear. In the course of the disease, a typical yellowing of the skin and the sclera may be visible. Moreover, a pronounced itching, in addition to abdominal pain as a result of liver enlargement may occur. While complete recovery is observed in most cases, among certain vulnerable groups, infections can be fatal in rare cases. Infected individuals are contagious for the duration of faecal excretion of pathogens, which may vary depending on their age. A week after the onset of symptoms, adults are probably not contagious anymore, while children and immunocompromised individuals can be contagious for up to seven weeks. Infection leads to lifelong immune protection in patients who have recovered.

The main path of transmission for hepatitis A viruses are faecal-oral contact or smear infections. Here, close personal contact, contaminated food and water, as well as inanimate surfaces, are relevant. In addition, bloodborne transmission has been observed.

Hygiene measures can make an important contribution to protection against infections with Hepatitis A viruses. A disinfectant with virucidal efficacy should be used for both hand and surface disinfection.

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  1. World Health Organization, Hepatitis A.
    (accessed on 17.03.2023)
  2. Robert Koch-Institute, RKI memorandum: Hepatitis A.

    (accessed on 17.03.2023)

Enveloped viruses
Hard to crack: molecules need to penetrate into the interior of the viruses to destroy them.

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