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Hepatitis Information Center

Hepatitis A Fact Sheet*

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Adults will have signs and symptoms more often than children.

  • jaundice
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • fever

CAUSE

Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

  • There is no chronic (long-term) infection.
  • Once you have had hepatitis A you cannot get it again.
  • About 15% of people infected with HAV will have prolonged or relapsing symptoms over a 6-9 month period.

TRANSMISSION

  • HAV is found in the stool (feces) of persons with hepatitis A.
  • HAV is usually spread from person toperson by putting something in the mouth (even though it may look clean) that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A.

PERSONS AT RISK OF INFECTION

  • Household contacts of infected persons.
  • Sex contacts of infected persons.
  • Persons, especially children, living in areas with increased rates of hepatitis A during the baseline period from 1987-1997.
  • Persons traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Injecting and non-injecting drug users.

PREVENTION

  • Hepatitis A vaccine is the best protection.
  • Short-term protection against hepatitis A is available from immuneglobulin. It can be given before and within 2 weeks after coming in contact with HAV.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food.

VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS

Vaccine is recommended for the following persons 2 years of age and older:

  • Travelers to areas with increased rates of hepatitis A
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Injecting and non-injecting drug users
  • Persons with clotting-factor disorders (e.g. hemophilia)
  • Persons with chronic liver disease
  • Children living in areas with increased rates of hepatitis A during the baseline period from 1987-1997.

TRENDS & STATISTICS

  • Occurs in epidemics both nationwide and in communities.
  • During epidemic years, the number of reported cases reached 35,000.
  • In the late 1990s, hepatitis A vaccine was more widely used and the number of cases reached historic lows.
  • One-third of Americans had evidence of past infection (immunity).

*Based on information published by the Centers for Disease Control.



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