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Hepatitis A Virus

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Published on November 01, 2017. Last modified on January 29, 2018

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About Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is highly contagious. It can cause liver disease, lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting months. In some cases, people can die. Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

How is it transmitted?

  • Touching objects or eating food that someone with hepatitis A virus infection handled.
  • Having sex with someone who has a HAV infection.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Blood tests allow doctors to diagnose it.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A

If you have this infection, you have inflammation in your liver that's caused by a virus. You might have following symptoms:

  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
  • Pain in your belly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
Hepatitis A virus does not always cause symptoms. Some people get hepatitis A virus and have no symptoms of the diseases. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.

Hepatitis A & Food Safety

Looking for information about Hepatitis A & Food Safety? Check out this page for helpful information on hand-washing and disinfection procedures for employees.

Additional Information

Usually the virus doesn't cause any long-term problems or complications. But according to the CDC, 10% to 15% of people with hepatitis A will have symptoms that last a long time or come back over a 6- to 9-month period. In rare situations, some people may have liver failure or need a transplant.

You can catch the disease if you drink water or food that's been contaminated with the stool of someone with the virus.

You can also get infected if you:

  • Touching objects or eating food that someone with hepatitis A virus infection handled.
  • Having sex with someone who has a HAV infection.

You could be at risk for the disease if you:

  • Live with or have sex with someone who's infected
  • Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs

No treatments can cure the disease. Your doctor may take tests that check your liver function to be sure your body is healing.

  • Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
  • Don’t have sex with someone who has HAV infection.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils.
  • Don’t share food, drinks, or smokes with other people.
  • Hepatitis A can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine - Providers who do not have available vaccine should contact County Public Health at the number below for further guidance.