WHAT IS IT?
Hepatitis A (Hep A) is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is highly contagious. The Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (feces) of an infected person. It is spread through person-to-person contact or contaminated food or water. The Hepatitis A virus can live outside the body for months.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children. Some people with Hep A will have no symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal Pain
- Dark Urine
- Clay-colored bowel
- Joint Pain
It generally begins 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. It usually last for 2 to 6 months. A person is contagious from Hep A up to 2 weeks before the symptoms appear. Alcohol should be avoided and any medications or supplements that could potentially damage the liver.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. The first dose is recommended to children at 12 months and the second dose at 18 months.
There is no treatment for Hepatitis A. Most people with Hepatitis A will feel sick for a few months then they will start to feel better. Ill people should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, rest, and eat to maintain proper nutrition. In some cases, the patient may need to be hospitalized to help relieve the symptoms.
You can also help prevent the spread of Hep A by:
- 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.
- Being up-to-date on all immunization shots and getting any additional shots before traveling to countries with high rates of Hepatitis A.
- Avoiding potentially contaminated water or food, such as:
- Drinking beverages (with or without ice) of unknown purity
- Eating uncooked shellfish
- Eating uncooked fruits or vegetables that are not peeled or prepared by the traveler personally.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page:
For more information about travel health vaccines, visit our Travel Clinic page: