Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus (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 eats food contaminated with a small amount of feces. A person can also get hepatitis A from touching objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Click here for recent hepatitis A outbreak information.
More than 80% of adults with hepatitis A have symptoms. Most children do not have symptoms. A person cannot be infected with hepatitis A twice. Frequent hand washing with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before eating or preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. The 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. Although anyone can get hepatitis A from food sources, certain groups of people are at higher risk, such as those who:
- Travel to or live in countries where hepatitis A is common
- Are men who have sexual contact with other men
- Have clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia
- Live with someone who has hepatitis A
- Have oral-anal sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A