Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Vaccines

Hepatitis A
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Hepatitis A facts*

*Hepatitis A facts medical Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

  • Hepatitis A is an inflammatory disease of the liver caused by a virus.
  • Hepatitis A viruses cause the disease termed hepatitis A; it is relatively uncommon since a vaccine became available.
  • People at higher risk to be infected with hepatitis A virus include those who use illegal drugs, men who have sex with men, people who live with individuals who have the disease, and people who travel to developing countries.
  • Although people with the disease usually recover, some may develop complications liver failure.
  • Some young infected individuals may have no symptoms. In other infected individuals, symptoms of hepatitis A may include flu- symptoms such as tiredness, stomach discomfort, fever, decreased appetite, and diarrhea; light-colored stools; more specific symptoms include dark yellow urine, and jaundice (white of eyes and skin become yellowish).
  • The cause of hepatitis A is hepatitis A virus; it can be transmitted to others by contaminated stools (feces), foods prepared by an infected person, contaminated water, and close personal contact (for example, touching hands, sex) with an infected person, but not by sneezing, cough, hugging (without skin contact) or by being near an infected person.
  • Hepatitis A is diagnosed by commonly available blood tests.
  • Hepatitis A resolves in most patients in a few weeks without treatment; a doctor may prescribe medications to reduce symptoms, while rest, drinking plenty of liquids and eating a healthy diet will also help recovery.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine can help protect against the disease; two shots are required, but some protection begins even after the first shot; the shots do not protect individuals against other hepatitis-causing viruses (types B, C, and others).
  • Hepatitis A immune globulin may protect some people if administered shortly after initial exposure to the virus; research is ongoing to produce other treatments.
  • You can reduce the chance of infection with hepatitis A virus by good handwashing, drinking only bottled water and using it for toothbrushing, making ice cubes, and for washing fruits and vegetables.
  • A dose of hepatitis A vaccine or hepatitis immune globulin may prevent infection after contact with the virus.
  • If you are infected, you can prevent or reduce the chance of spreading the virus to others by good handwashing and avoiding food preparation and serving food to others; you may not qualify to give blood.
  • People with and recovering from hepatitis A should eat a balanced, healthy diet and avoid substances alcohol that may cause increased liver damage.

Hepatitis A is a type of liver infection caused by a virus termed hepatitis A (HAV). Symptoms, if they occur, start about 2 to 6 weeks after exposure to HAV. About 80% of adults have symptoms while children seldom show symptoms. Symptoms of hepatitis A may include the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Jaundice (yellowish color to skin and/or eyes)
  • Joint pain

Hepatitis A spreads from person to person.

Learn more about hepatitis A transmission »

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. Inflammation is swelling that occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.

Viruses invade normal cells in your body. Many viruses cause infections that can be spread from person to person. The hepatitis A virus typically spreads through contact with food or water that has been contaminated by an infected person’s stool.

Hepatitis A is an acute or short-term infection, which means people usually get better without treatment after a few weeks. Hepatitis A does not lead to long-term complications, such as cirrhosis, because the infection only lasts a short time.

You can take steps to protect yourself from hepatitis A, including getting the hepatitis A vaccine. If you have hepatitis A, you can take steps to prevent spreading hepatitis A to others.

Liver disease refers to any abnormal process that affects the liver. See Answer

How common is hepatitis A?

In the United States, hepatitis A has become relatively uncommon. Since the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1995, the rate of hepatitis A infections has declined by 95 percent in the United States. Researchers estimate that about 2,500 cases of hepatitis A occurred in the United States in 2014.

Hepatitis A is more common in developing countries where sanitation is poor and access to clean water is limited. Hepatitis A is more common in parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe than it is in the United States.

Who is more ly to get hepatitis A?

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People more ly to get hepatitis A are those who

  • travel to developing countries
  • have sex with an infected person
  • are men who have sex with men
  • use illegal drugs, including drugs that are not injected
  • live with or care for someone who has hepatitis A

What are the complications of hepatitis A?

People typically recover from hepatitis A without complications. In rare cases, hepatitis A may lead to liver failure. Liver failure due to hepatitis A is more common in adults older than age 50 and in people who have another liver disease.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

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Some people have symptoms 2 to 6 weeks after they come in contact with the virus. People with hepatitis A typically get better without treatment after a few weeks. In some cases, symptoms can last up to 6 months. These symptoms may include

Some people infected with hepatitis A have no symptoms, including many children younger than age 6. Older children and adults are more ly to have symptoms.

What causes hepatitis A?

The hepatitis A virus causes this type of hepatitis and spreads through contact with an infected person’s stool. Contact can occur by

  • eating food made by an infected person who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
  • drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • placing a finger or an object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person’s stool
  • having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill

You cannot get hepatitis A from

  • being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person
  • sitting next to an infected person
  • hugging an infected person

A baby cannot get hepatitis A from breast milk.

Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A) See a medical image of Hepatitis B along with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) See Images

How do doctors diagnose hepatitis A?

Doctors diagnose hepatitis A symptoms and a blood test. A health care professional will take a blood sample from you and send the sample to a lab. A blood test will detect antibodies to the hepatitis A virus and show whether you have hepatitis A.

How do doctors treat hepatitis A?

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Treatment includes resting, drinking plenty of liquids, and eating healthy foods to help relieve symptoms. Your doctor may also suggest medicines to help relieve symptoms.

Talk with your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or other dietary supplements , or complementary or alternative medicines—any of these could damage your liver. You should avoid alcohol until your doctor tells you that you have completely recovered from hepatitis A.

See your doctor regularly to make sure your body has fully recovered. If you have symptoms for longer than 6 months, see your doctor again.

How can I protect myself from hepatitis A infection?

You can protect yourself from hepatitis A by getting the hepatitis A vaccine. If you have not had the vaccine, you can take steps to reduce your chance of infection.

If you have had hepatitis A in the past, you cannot get hepatitis A again. You can still get other types of viral hepatitis though.

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Hepatitis A vaccine

All children should receive the hepatitis A vaccine between 12 and 23 months of age. People who are more ly to be infected and people with chronic liver disease should also receive the vaccine.

Doctors give the hepatitis A vaccine in two shots. You should get the second shot 6 to 12 months after the first shot. You need to get both shots to be fully protected against the virus.

If you are traveling to a developing country where hepatitis A is common and you haven’t received the hepatitis A vaccine, try to get both shots before you go. If you don’t have time to get both shots, get the first shot as soon as you can. Most people gain some protection within 2 weeks of the first shot.

Reduce your chance of infection

You can reduce your chance of hepatitis A by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 15 to 30 seconds

  • after using the toilet
  • after changing diapers
  • before and after handling or preparing food

When traveling in a developing country, drink bottled water. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, make ice cubes, and wash fruits and vegetables.

Prevent infection after contact with the virus

If you think you have come in contact with the hepatitis A virus, see your doctor right away. A dose of the hepatitis A vaccine or a medicine called hepatitis A immune globulin may protect you from getting the infection. Your doctor may recommend a vaccine dose or medicine if

  • you live with, have had sex with, or have had close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • you shared illegal drugs with someone who had hepatitis A
  • you ate food or drank water possibly containing the hepatitis A virus

You must get the vaccine dose or medicine shortly after coming into contact with the virus to prevent infection.

How can I prevent spreading hepatits A to others?

If you have hepatitis A, you can reduce your chance of spreading the infection by washing your hands with warm, soapy water after using the toilet and before fixing or eating food. While you are sick, avoid close contact with others, and don’t prepare food or serve food to others. Also, tell your doctor, dentist, and other health care professionals that you have hepatitis A.

Talk with a blood donation center before you donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were younger than 11, you may be able to donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were age 11 or older, you should not donate blood.

You are most contagious—able to spread the virus to others—during the 2 weeks before you have symptoms. You may be contagious for up to 3 weeks after you develop symptoms. Children are often contagious longer than adults.

What should I eat and drink if I have hepatits A?

If you have hepatitis A, you should eat a balanced, healthy diet. Talk with your doctor about healthy eating. You should also avoid alcohol because it can cause more liver damage.

Hepatitis C, Hep B, Hep A: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment See Slideshow

Medically Reviewed on 6/18/2019


SOURCE: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Hepatitis A.” National Institutes of Health (NIH). May 2017.

Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/hepatitis_a/article.htm

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is primarily spread when an uninfected (and unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. The disease is closely associated with unsafe water or food, inadequate sanitation, poor personal hygiene and oral-anal sex.

Un hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause debilitating symptoms and fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure), which is often fatal. Overall, WHO estimated that in 2016, 7 134 persons died from hepatitis A worldwide (accounting for 0.5% of the mortality due to viral hepatitis).

Hepatitis A occurs sporadically and in epidemics worldwide, with a tendency for cyclic recurrences. The hepatitis A virus is one of the most frequent causes of foodborne infection.

Epidemics related to contaminated food or water can erupt explosively, such as the epidemic in Shanghai in 1988 that affected about 300 000 people1. They can be also prolonged, affecting communities for months through person-to-person transmission.

Hepatitis A viruses persist in the environment and can withstand food-production processes routinely used to inactivate and/or control bacterial pathogens.

The disease can lead to significant economic and social consequences in communities. It can take weeks or months for people recovering from the illness to return to work, school, or daily life. The impact on food establishments identified with the virus, and local productivity in general, can be substantial.

Geographical distribution areas can be characterized as having high, intermediate or low levels of hepatitis A virus infection. However, infection does not mean disease because children infected young do not experience any noticeable symptoms.

In low- and middle-income countries with poor sanitary conditions and hygienic practices, infection is common and most children (90%) have been infected with the hepatitis A virus before the age of 10 years, most often without symptoms2. Epidemics are uncommon because older children and adults are generally immune. Symptomatic disease rates in these areas are low and outbreaks are rare.

Areas with low levels of infection

In high-income countries with good sanitary and hygienic conditions, infection rates are low. Disease may occur among adolescents and adults in high-risk groups, such as PWIDs, MSMs, people travelling to areas of high endemicity, and in isolated populations, such as closed religious groups.In the United States of America, large outbreaks have been reported among homeless persons.

In middle-income countries, and regions where sanitary conditions are variable, children often escape infection in early childhood and reach adulthood without immunity.

Ironically, these improved economic and sanitary conditions may lead to accumulation of adults who have never been infected and who have no immunity.

This higher susceptibility in older age groups may lead to higher disease rates and large outbreaks can occur in these communities.

The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily by the faecal-oral route; that is when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person.

In families, this may happen though dirty hands when an infected person prepares food for family members.

Waterborne outbreaks, though infrequent, are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water.

The virus can also be transmitted through close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

The incubation period of hepatitis A is usually 14–28 days.

Symptoms of hepatitis A range from mild to severe, and can include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-coloured urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms.

Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children. The severity of disease and fatal outcomes are higher in older age groups. Infected children under 6 years of age do not usually experience noticeable symptoms, and only 10% develop jaundice.

Among older children and adults, infection usually causes more severe symptoms, with jaundice occurring in more than 70% of cases. Hepatitis A sometimes relapses. The person who just recovered falls sick again with another acute episode.

This is, however, followed by recovery.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can get infected with hepatitis A virus. In areas where the virus is widespread (high endemicity), most hepatitis A infections occur during early childhood. Risk factors include:

  • poor sanitation;
  • lack of safe water;
  • living in a household with an infected person;
  • being a sexual partner of someone with acute hepatitis A infection;
  • use of recreational drugs;
  • sex between men;
  • travelling to areas of high endemicity without being immunized.

Cases of hepatitis A are not clinically distinguishable from other types of acute viral hepatitis. Specific diagnosis is made by the detection of HAV-specific Immunoglobulin G (IgM) antibodies in the blood. Additional tests include reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the hepatitis A virus RNA, and may require specialized laboratory facilities.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months. Most important is the avoidance of unnecessary medications. Acetaminophen / Paracetamol and medication against vomiting should not be given.

Hospitalization is unnecessary in the absence of acute liver failure. Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhea.

Improved sanitation, food safety and immunization are the most effective ways to combat hepatitis A.

The spread of hepatitis A can be reduced by:

  • adequate supplies of safe drinking water;
  • proper disposal of sewage within communities; and
  • personal hygiene practices such as regular hand-washing before meals and after going to the bathroom.

Several injectable inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are available internationally. All are similar in terms of how well they protect people from the virus and their side-effects. No vaccine is licensed for children younger than 1 year of age. In China, a live oral vaccine is also available.

Nearly 100% of people develop protective levels of antibodies to the virus within 1 month after injection of a single dose of vaccine. Even after exposure to the virus, a single dose of the vaccine within 2 weeks of contact with the virus has protective effects. Still, manufacturers recommend 2 vaccine doses to ensure a longer-term protection of about 5 to 8 years after vaccination.

Millions of people have received injectable inactivated hepatitis A vaccine worldwide with no serious adverse events. The vaccine can be given as part of regular childhood immunizations programmes and also with other vaccines for travellers.

Vaccination against hepatitis A should be part of a comprehensive plan for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis. Planning for large-scale immunization programmes should involve careful economic evaluations and consider alternative or additional prevention methods, such as improved sanitation, and health education for improved hygiene practices.

Whether or not to include the vaccine in routine childhood immunizations depends on the local context. The proportion of susceptible people in the population and the level of exposure to the virus should be considered.

Generally speaking, countries with intermediate endemicity will benefit the most from universal immunization of children. Countries with low endemicity may consider vaccinating high-risk adults.

In countries with high endemicity, the use of vaccine is limited as most adults are naturally immune.

  • Countries with immunization schedules that include hepatitis A

As of May 2019, 34 countries used or were planning to introduce hepatitis A vaccine in routine immunization of children in specific risk groups.

While the 2 dose regimen of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine is used in many countries, other countries may consider inclusion of a single-dose inactivated hepatitis A vaccine in their immunization schedules. Some countries also recommend the vaccine for people at increased risk of hepatitis A, including:

  • users of recreational drugs;
  • travellers to countries where the virus is endemic;
  • men who have sex with men; and
  • people with chronic liver disease (because of their increased risk of serious complications if they acquire hepatitis A infection).

Regarding immunization for outbreak response, recommendations for hepatitis A vaccination should also be site-specific. The feasibility of rapidly implementing a widespread immunization campaign needs to be included.

Vaccination to control community-wide outbreaks is most successful in small communities, when the campaign is started early and when high coverage of multiple age groups is achieved. Vaccination efforts should be supplemented by health education to improve sanitation, hygiene practices and food safety.

In May 2016, The World Health Assembly adopted the first “Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, 2016-2021”. The strategy highlights the critical role of Universal Health Coverage and the targets of the strategy are aligned with those of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The strategy has a vision of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health problem and this is encapsulated in the global targets of reducing new viral hepatitis infections by 90% and reducing deaths due to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030.

Actions to be taken by countries and WHO Secretariat to reach these targets are outlined in the strategy.

To support countries in moving towards achieving the global hepatitis goals under the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 WHO is working in the following areas:

  • raising awareness, promoting partnerships and mobilizing resources;
  • formulating evidence-based policy and data for action;
  • preventing transmission; and
  • scaling up screening, care and treatment services.

WHO published the “Progress report on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, 2019”, outlining its progress towards elimination.

The report sets out global statistics on viral hepatitis B and C, the rate of new infections, the prevalence of chronic infections and mortality caused by these 2 high-burden viruses, as well as coverage of key interventions, all current as at the end of 2016 and 2017.

Since 2011, together with national governments, civil society and partners, WHO has organized annual World Hepatitis Day campaigns (as 1 of its 9 flagship annual health campaigns) to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis.

The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Bloomberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.

For World Hepatitis Day 2019, WHO is focusing on the theme “Invest in eliminating hepatitis” to highlight the need for increased domestic and international funding to scale up hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services, in order to achieve the 2030 elimination targets.

  • An epidemic of hepatitis A attributable to the ingestion of raw clams in Shanghai, China. Halliday ML1, Kang LY, Zhou TK, Hu MD, Pan QC, Fu TY, Huang YS, Hu SL. J Infect Dis. 1991 Nov;164(5):852-9.
  • Hepatitis A virus seroprevalence by age and world region, 1990 and 2005. Jacobsen KH, Wiersma ST. Hepatitis A virus seroprevalence by age and world region, 1990 and 2005. Vaccine 28 (2010) 6653–6657.

Source: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a

Hepatitis A (Hep A)

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, also called hep A, is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Some people have only a mild illness that lasts a few weeks. Others have more severe problems that can last months. You usually get the disease when you eat or drink something contaminated by poop from a person who has the virus.

The hepatitis A virus usually isn’t dangerous. Almost everyone who has it gets better. But because it can take a while to go away, you’ll need to take care of yourself in the meantime.

If you have this infection, the virus is causing inflammation in your liver. Some people, especially many children, don’t have symptoms. Others might have:

  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin)
  • Belly pain
  • Dark urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Pale-colored poop
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

These problems tend to go away after about 2 months but might keep coming back for up to 6 months.

You can spread the hepatitis A virus even if you feel fine. You can also spread it about 2 weeks before your symptoms appear and during the first week after they show up.

You can catch the disease by drinking water or eating food that's been contaminated by someone with the virus. You can also get hepatitis A if you:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, or other foods handled or prepared by a person who has the virus
  • Eat raw shellfish harvested from water where the virus lives
  • Swallow contaminated ice
  • Have sex with someone who has it
  • Touch your mouth after touching a contaminated object

You could be at higher risk of getting the disease if you:

  • Have close contact with someone who's infected
  • Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Are homeless
  • Use recreational drugs, even without needles
  • Have a blood clotting disorder hemophilia
  • Work with primates
  • Have HIV

Also at higher risk are:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Kids in child care and their teachers

Your doctor will first ask about your symptoms and check for high levels of liver enzymes in your blood. Then, they’ll do more blood tests to look for:

  • IgM (immunoglobulin M) antibodies. Your body makes these when you’re first exposed to hepatitis A. They stay in your blood for about 3 to 6 months.
  • IgG (immunoglobulin G) antibodies. These show up after the virus has been in your body for a while. You may have them all your life. They protect you against hepatitis A. If you test positive for them but not for IgM antibodies, it means you had a hepatitis A infection in the past or had vaccinations to protect against it.

No medication can get rid of the hepatitis A virus once you have it. Your doctor will treat your symptoms — they may call this supportive care — until it goes away. They’ll also do tests that check how well your liver is working to be sure your body is healing it should.

You can take these steps to make yourself more comfortable:

  • Get some rest. You’ll probably feel tired and sick and have less energy than usual.
  • Try to keep food down. The nausea that sometimes comes with hepatitis A can make it tough to eat. It may be easier to snack during the day than to eat full meals. To make sure you get enough nutrients, go for more high-calorie foods and drink fruit juice or milk instead of water. Fluids will also help keep you hydrated if you’re throwing up.
  • Avoid alcohol. It’s harder for your liver to handle medications and alcohol when you have the virus. Plus, drinking can lead to more liver damage. Tell your doctor about any medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, as these might also hurt your liver.

The virus usually doesn't cause any long-term problems or complications. Rarely, you may have liver failure or need a transplant.

The vaccine to prevent it is about 95% effective in healthy adults and can work for more than 20 years. In children, it’s about 85% effective and can last 15 to 20 years.

Experts recommend that certain people get vaccinated:

  • Travelers to countries with more hepatitis A infections
  • Infants 6 to 11 months old who will be traveling internationally
  • Children at 1 year old
  • Families adopting children from countries where the virus is common
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who have a blood clotting problem
  • Those experiencing homelessness
  • People who have direct contact with a person with the virus
  • People who use recreational drugs
  • People who have long-term liver disease
  • Anyone else who wants to be protected against the virus

The hepatitis A vaccine includes two injections 6 months apart. A combination vaccine for hepatitis A and B has three shots over 6 months.

If you’re going to a country where hepatitis A is common and you’ve never had the virus or the vaccine, start the vaccination process as soon as you can. It takes 2 to 4 weeks after the first dose for the vaccine to work, but even one shot a few days before you leave will give you some protection.

People who are allergic to something in the vaccine and children younger than 6 months might instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG), which will protect against hepatitis A for up to 2 months.

The vaccine is your best defense. If you come into contact with someone who has hepatitis A, you can get the vaccine or an IG shot within 2 weeks for some protection.

Good hygiene is also important. Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after handling food, and after changing a diaper.

When you travel to a place with poor sanitation, don’t drink tap water or eat raw food.

When you have hepatitis A, take these steps to keep from giving it to others:

  • Avoid all sexual activity.
  • Wash your hands after you use the bathroom or change diapers.
  • Don’t prepare food for other people.


Lab Tests Online: “Hepatitis A Testing,” “Immunoglobulin G (IgG),” “Immunoglobulin M (IgM).”

UpToDate: “Hepatitis A virus infection in adults: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis,” “Hepatitis A virus infection: Treatment and prevention.”

Mayo Clinic: “Hepatitis A.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Hepatitis A.”

Merck Manual Consumer Version: “Hepatitis A.”

CDC: “Hepatitis A Information.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Hepatitis A.”

World Health Organization: “International travel and health – Hepatitis A.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Hepatitis A Symptoms

Source: https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/digestive-diseases-hepatitis-a

Hepatitis A | NIDDK

Hepatitis A

If you have hepatitis A, you can reduce your chance of spreading the infection by washing your hands with warm, soapy water after using the toilet and before fixing or eating food. While you are sick, avoid close contact with others, and don’t prepare food or serve food to others. Also, tell your doctor, dentist, and other health care professionals that you have hepatitis A.

Talk with a blood donation center before you donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were younger than 11, you may be able to donate blood. If you had hepatitis A when you were age 11 or older, you should not donate blood.

You are most contagious—able to spread the virus to others—during the 2 weeks before you have symptoms. You may be contagious for up to 3 weeks after you develop symptoms. Children are often contagious longer than adults.5

What should I eat and drink if I have hepatitis A?

If you have hepatitis A, you should eat a balanced, healthy diet. Talk with your doctor about healthy eating. You should also avoid alcohol because it can cause more liver damage.


[1] Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Hepatitis website. www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2017surveillance/index.htm. Reviewed September 10, 2019. Accessed September 11, 2019.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National notifiable diseases surveillance system, weekly tables of infectious disease data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance website. https://wonder.cdc.gov/nndss/static/2018/52/2018-52-table2H.html. Accessed September 19, 2019.

[3] Hepatitis A questions and answers for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Hepatitis website. www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm. Reviewed March 13, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.

[4] Rac MW, Sheffield JS. Prevention and management of viral hepatitis in pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 2014;41(4):573–592.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chapter 9: Hepatitis A. In Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2015:135–148.

Source: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-a