Jon Snow health: Channel 4 presenter reveals nasty infection – symptoms

Jon Snow, 72, is a seasoned journalist, having spent three decades presenting on Channel 4 News. The journalist is known for his silver-tongued scrutiny, eliciting hard facts from evasive politicians. The interviewer rarely becomes the interviewee, but in an interview with the the Daily Mail Online a couple of years back, the star opened up about his personal life.


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The journalist told the paper he contracted an infection while doing on-the-ground reporting in the seventies.

He said: “I got hepatitis A (a liver infection) while covering an IRA siege in the Republic of Ireland in the Seventies.

“There was a tap leading into a cow trough which we drank from and the water turned out to be contaminated.”

“I was sent to an isolation ward for a week and I couldn’t drink for six months afterwards. It lowered my threshold for alcohol.”

According to the NHS, hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus that’s spread in the poo of an infected person.

As the health site explains, it’s uncommon in the UK, but certain groups are at increased risk, including travellers to parts of the world with poor levels of sanitation, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.

Hepatitis A can be unpleasant, but it’s not usually serious and most people make a full recovery within a couple of months.

However, as the NHS notes, hepatitis A can occasionally last for many months and, in rare cases, it can be life threatening if it causes the liver to stop working properly (liver failure).

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What are the symptoms?

“The symptoms of hepatitis A develop, on average, around 4 weeks after becoming infected, although not everyone will get them,” explained the NHS.

Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling tired and generally unwell
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • A raised temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Pain in the upper right part of your tummy
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Dark pee and pale poo
  • Itchy skin

You should see your GP if you think you could have been infected with the virus – a blood test will be needed to rule out more serious conditions that have similar symptoms, warns the NHS.

Although Hepatitis A is not usually a cause for concern, in rare cases it can cause the liver to stop working properly (liver failure).


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According to the NHS, if this happens, you may experience:

  • Sudden, severe vomiting
  • A tendency to bruise and bleed easily (for example, frequent nosebleeds or Bleeding gums)
  • Irritability
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Drowsiness and confusion

“Get medical advice as soon as possible if you have these symptoms. Liver failure can be life threatening if not treated quickly,” warned the NHS.

How to treat it

There’s currently no cure for hepatitis A, but it normally gets better on its own within a couple of months and you can usually look after yourself at home, explains the NHS.

As the health body notes, your GP can also advise you about treatments. They may carry out regular blood tests to check how well your liver is working.

“Go back to your GP if your symptoms get worse or have not started to improve within a couple of months,” advised the health site.

The following self-tips can also help to alleviate symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest – especially during the initial stages of the infection, as you’ll probably feel very tired
  • Take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, if you have any aches and pains – how much you can take depends on how well your liver is working (ask your GP for advice)
  • Reduce itching by maintaining a cool, well-ventilated environment, wearing loose clothing and avoiding hot baths or showers – your GP may recommend using an antihistamine in severe cases
  • Eat small, light meals to help reduce nausea and vomiting – your GP can prescribe a medication called an antiemetic if the problem persists
  • Avoid alcohol – drinking alcohol can put additional strain on your liver, so avoid it until your GP says it’s safe
  • While you’re ill, it’s also important to try to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

As the NHS explains, you should:

  • Stay off work or school until at least a week after your jaundice or other symptoms started
  • Avoid preparing food for others if possible
  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, particularly after going to the toilet and before preparing food
  • Avoid sharing towels
  • Wash soiled laundry separately on a hot cycle
  • clean the toilet, flush handles and taps more frequently than usual

Avoid having sex while you’re infectious – hepatitis A is most infectious from around two weeks before the symptoms start until about a week after they first develop (ask your GP for advice about this)

The health body added: “Any close contacts, such as people who live in the same house as you, may be advised to have the hepatitis A vaccine to reduce their risk of becoming infected.”

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