Picornaviruses are nonenveloped, single stranded positive sense RNA viruses with an icosahedral capsid. This virus family includes many important human pathogens including enteroviruses and rhinoviruses. Enteroviruses that cause human disease include poliovirus, echovirus, coxsackievirus, and hepatitis A virus.
Compared to the other hepatitis infections, HAV has a relatively short incubation period of about 4 weeks (average of 28 days). This incubation period is variable, however, and ranges from 15-50 days.
This virus is spread via the fecal-oral route and transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
There is increased incidence of HAV in children in daycare centers due to increased fecal-oral contact.
In industrialized countries, the infection is often contracted by susceptible adults who get infected by the virus during trips to developing countries with high incidence of disease.
In most children, HAV infection is usually asymptomatic and rarely causes clinical signs and symptoms.
HAV does not result in chronic infection of the liver.
Individuals that suffer from clinical symptoms of HAV often experience jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and sclera due to hyperbilirubinemia, often caused by liver damage.
Individuals that suffer from clinical symptoms of HAV often experience fever.
Individuals that suffer from clinical symptoms of HAV often have vomiting.
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