Hepatitis A Disease
What is hepatitis A?
- Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by a virus.
- Hepatitis A only occurs as a new infection, and does not become chronic.
- There is no cure for hepatitis A, but your healthcare provider may treat the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
- Symptoms of Hep A may include:
-- Feeling tired
-- Decreased appetite
-- Nausea and/or vomiting
-- Stomach pain or discomfort
-- Dark urine
-- Clay-colored stool
-- Joint pain
-- Yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Usually occur 15-50 days after being exposed to the virus.
- If you have any of the symptoms, please consult with your healthcare provider immediately.
How does hepatitis A spread?
- Hepatitis A virus is spread by the infected people’s contaminated objects, food, drinks, and feces (poop).
- Person-to-person contact
-- An infected person who does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects, food, or drink.
-- A parent or caregiver who does not properly wash hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person.
-- Someone who has sex or sexual contact with an infected person, not limited to anal-oral contact.
-- During high-risk situations like using streets drugs, homelessness, and/or having anal and oral sex.
- Contaminated food or water
-- Eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus, which may include ready-to-eat food. The food and drinks most likely to be contaminated are fruits, vegetables, shellfish, ice, and water.
How do I protect myself and my family?
- Hepatitis A vaccine and proper hand washing are the only ways to prevent getting the virus.
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine?
- All children at age 1 year
- Anyone who is at increased risk for infection, including those who have
-- Used street drug
-- Men having sex with men
-- Homeless and transient living
-- Direct contact with someone with hepatitis A
-- Travel outside of the United States
-- Have an occupational risk
-- Have chronic liver disease
-- Have clotting factor disorders
- Persons who are at increased risk for complications from hepatitis A
- Any person wishing to obtain immunity (protection).
Which vaccine should I get?
- For people aged 1 year of age and older, there are two vaccines that protect against hepatitis A disease. Two doses are needed given at least 6 months apart.
- For people aged 18 years of age and older, there is one combination vaccine that protect against hepatitis A and B disease. Three doses are needed for full protection.
What are the side effects and risks?
- Vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing side effects.
- Most people do not have any side effects from the vaccine, but common minor problems include:
-- Soreness or swelling where the shot was given
- The risk of the hepatitis A vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely rare.
Where can I find more information?
- Ask your healthcare provider or county health department.
- Email the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-469-4599.
- Go to cdc.gov and type ‘Hepatitis A’ and/or ‘Hepatitis A vaccine’ in the SEARCH box.
Page last updated: March 29, 2019