Hepatitis A

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Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. Unlike the other common forms of hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), it does not cause chronic (long-term) liver disease.

How is hepatitis A spread?[change | change source]

When a person has hepatitis A, the virus stays in their feces. Hepatitis A is usually spread by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with infected feces.[1] For example, hepatitis A can be spread by:[1]

  • Using ice that was made from contaminated water
  • Eating fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are not cooked, which may have gotten contaminated when a person with hepatitis A prepared them
    • Foods that are not cooked are more likely to spread hepatitis A because cooking food will kill the virus
  • Eating shellfish that lived in contaminated water, and were not cooked well enough to kill the virus

Hepatitis A can also be spread by having sex with someone who has hepatitis A.[1]

Signs and symptoms[change | change source]

Treatment and prognosis[change | change source]

There is no medication that can cure hepatitis A. In most cases, the infection resolves on its own. In most cases, symptoms last less than 2 months, although some people are sick for as long as six months.[1]

Unfortunately, a small number of patients develop Fulminant hepatic failure, which is very serious.

Prevention[change | change source]

A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A, and anti-hepatitis A immunoglobulin is also used.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Hepatitis A: Questions and Answers for the Public". www.cdc.gov. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). December 22, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm#transmission. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mayo clinic: Hepatitis symptoms