Can you get hepatitis by sharing food?

hepatitis by sharing foodThe most common hepatitis in Australia are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Food and water can be contaminated by the hepatitis A virus, and if consumed can cause a person to become infected with the virus. The hepatitis A virus is spread through faeces (poo). The person with hepatitis A can spread hepatitis A if their hands are not washed properly when preparing food or drink.
If a person becomes infected with hepatitis A it is usually a short-term illness (acute) and the person will get immunity (will not get the infection again). You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A if you have never had the infection. Before you have a vaccine you should have a hepatitis A test at your GP to find out if you need the vaccine.
We should always wash our hands after going to the toilet and before we handle, prepare or eat food.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are mainly spread through blood contact. You cannot get hepatitis B or hepatitis C from sharing food or:
• Plates and cups, chopsticks or cutlery.
• Shaking hands, hugging and kissing.
• Sneezing
• Using public toilets or swimming pools.
• Breastfeeding
• Mosquito bites.
Blood to blood contact can occur with even the tiniest amount of infected blood, from a person infected with hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, including:
• The use of unsterile medical equipment, including tattooing equipment etc
• Blood and blood product transfusions performed overseas
• Sharing personal hygiene items e.g. razors, toothbrushes.
• Cultural practices and traditional treatments including scarification and acupuncture.
• Sharing injecting drug equipment.
• During birth from mother to baby if the mother has hepatitis B, much less common for Hepatitis C.
• Sexual contact if one of the partners has hepatitis B, therefore you should use condoms or have the hepatitis B vaccination if not immune.
A simple blood test will tell you if you have hepatitis A, B or C, or if you have immunity for Hepatitis A or B.
• Any person who has the hepatitis B infection needs regular monitoring.
• Most people who have the hepatitis C infection can be cured.
If you have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and have not seen your GP about these infections, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
If you would like any further information please see our website www.eccq.com.au/bbv or contact our Program on 07 3844 9166

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