Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is usually found in stool (bowel movement).
Hepatitis A infections generally clear up, without treatment, within two to five weeks.
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
It is spread by:
HAV is generally not spread by casual contact, such as you would encounter in school, the office, or at a public event.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
While the virus can affect anyone in the United States, there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of getting hepatitis A, including:
People at risk include:
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Three out of every four adults who get hepatitis A have symptoms that usually develop over a period of several days.
Hepatitis A does not always cause symptoms, but adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.
A person can spread the hepatitis A virus (HAV) about one week before symptoms appear and during the first week of symptoms.
People with no symptoms can still spread the virus. This often happens with young children who unknowingly spread HAV to older children and adults.
Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A causes no long-term liver damage and usually does not cause death.
There is no chronic carrier state with hepatitis A. Having had the disease produces lifelong immunity from future hepatitis A virus infection.
To diagnose hepatitis A, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include:
There are no specific treatments for hepatitis A.
The goals of hepatitis A treatment are to:
The disease generally will go away, without treatment, within two to five weeks. However, about 15 percent of people who are infected by hepatitis A will have relapsing symptoms for up to nine months.
In almost all cases, once you recover, there are no aftereffects and you are immune to the virus.
In rare cases, hepatitis A infection will be so severe that a liver transplant may be necessary.
The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is usually found in stool (bowel movement).
Here are a few you ways you can protect yourself from infection.
Immune (gamma) globulin is a preparation containing antibodies that provides temporary protection from hepatitis A (about one to three months).
You must receive it before exposure to the virus, or within two weeks after exposure to HAV.
This vaccine is made from inactive hepatitis A virus, and is highly effective in preventing infection.
It provides protection from infection for:
Licensed for those over two years of age, the vaccine is recommended for:
The virus is killed by heating to 185 F (85 C) for one minute. However, the disease can still be spread by cooked foods if they are contaminated after cooking.
Adequate chlorination of water, as recommended in the United States, kills HAV.
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