A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the
hepatitis A virus (abbreviated HAV). It can range in severity
from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting
several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests
fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects,
food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is classified with the enterovirus
group of the Picornaviridae family. HAV has a single molecule of RNA
surrounded by a small (27 nm diameter) protein capsid and a buoyant
density in CsCl of 1.33 g/ml. Many other picornaviruses cause human
disease, including polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and
rhinoviruses (cold viruses).
HAV is excreted in feces of infected people and can produce clinical
disease when susceptible individuals consume contaminated water or
foods. Cold cuts and sandwiches, fruits and fruit juices, milk and milk
products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks are commonly
implicated in outbreaks. Water, shellfish, and salads are the most
frequent sources. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food
processing plants and restaurants is common.
Hepatitis A Symptoms
A doesn't always cause symptoms. Some people get hepatitis A and have
no symptoms of the disease. Adults are more likely to have symptoms
than children. If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2
to 6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of
several days and
last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as
If you do have symptoms, they may include the following:
all people who get hepatitis A recover completely and do not have any
lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. Hepatitis
A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare
and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and
persons with other liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or C.
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the
skin or eyes)
best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the
hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for all children, for
travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for
infection with the virus.
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for:
children at age 1 year
to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A
who have sexual contact with other men
of injection and non-injection illegal drugs
with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as hepatitis B or
who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
- People who work with hepatitis A infected
animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
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.
Immune globulin is
a substance made from human blood plasma that contains antibodies that
protect against infection. It is given as a shot and provides
short-term protection (approximately 3 months) against hepatitis A.
Immune globulin can be given either before exposure to the hepatitis A
virus (such as before travel to a country where hepatitis A is common)
or to prevent infection after exposure to the hepatitis A virus. Immune
globulin must be given within 2 weeks after exposure for the best
best way to prevent hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.
The hepatitis A vaccine is given as 2 shots, 6 months apart.
The hepatitis A vaccine also comes in a combination form, containing
both hepatitis A and B vaccine, that can be given to persons 18 years
of age and older. This form is given as 3 shots, over a period of 6
person spread hepatitis A without having symptoms?
Yes. Many people, especially children, have no symptoms. In
addition, a person can transmit the virus to others up to 2 weeks
before symptoms appear.
hepatitis A treated?
There are no special treatments for hepatitis A. Most people
with hepatitis A will feel sick for a few months before they begin to
feel better. A few people will need to be hospitalized. During this
time, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids.
People with hepatitis A should check with a health professional before
taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter
medications, which can potentially damage the liver. Alcohol should be
is the hepatitis A vaccine?
The hepatitis A vaccine is a shot of inactive hepatitis A
virus that stimulates the body's natural immune system. After the
vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies that protect a person
against the virus. An antibody is a substance found in the blood that
is produced in response to a virus invading the body. These antibodies
are then stored in the body and will fight off the infection if a
person is exposed to the virus in the future.
the hepatitis A vaccine effective?
Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in
preventing hepatitis A virus infection. Protection begins approximately
2 to 4 weeks after the first injection. A second injection results in
Is the hepatitis A vaccine
Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is safe. No serious side
effects have resulted from the hepatitis A vaccine. Soreness at the
injection site is the most common side effect reported. As with any
medicine, there are very small risks that a serious problem could occur
after someone gets the vaccine. However, the potential risks associated
with hepatitis A are much greater than the potential risks associated
with the hepatitis A vaccine.