Hepatitis A Virus

Epidemics of jaundice have been reported since antiquity. During World War II it was clearly established, based on incubation periods and risk factors, that infectious hepatitis and serum hepatitis were distinct entities. The agents presumed to be responsible for these infections were named hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis A virus (HAV) was first identified at the National Institutes of Health in 1971, using electron microscopy performed on the feces of volunteers experimentally infected with infectious hepatitis.

HAV is extremely resistant to degradation by environmental conditions. Infectivity is reduced only 76% after 14 weeks incubation at 5°C and only 85% after four weeks at room temperature.

Undoubtedly, this high degree of resistance to unfavourable conditions is an important factor in the maintenance and spread of HAV in populations.

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