Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hepatitis A: What you need to know

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What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).  The disease can range from a mild illness lasting 1 or 2 weeks to a severe illness lasting for several months.  HAV is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A infection and is usually spread by eating contaminated food or drinking water and can be spread through close personal/sexual contact.  A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A infection?
Not everyone has symptoms.  If symptoms develop, they can include:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache and/or body ache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark colored urine
  • Pale colored stools
  • Yellow skin and eyes (Jaundice—may develop several days to a week after other symptoms begin)
Persons should seek medical attention immediately should they develop symptoms.

How long is a person with hepatitis A contagious?
Patients with hepatitis A are most contagious during the 1 to 2 weeks before the symptoms start until at least 1 week after the start of first symptoms.

Where can I get vaccinated for hepatitis A?
For a list of pharmacies that provide hepatitis A vaccine, go to

What is the treatment for hepatitis A infection?
There is no special treatment for persons with hepatitis A infection.  Most persons with hepatitis A infection will recover without complications but may require supportive therapy (e.g. fluids orally or, in some cases, given through the vein, medicines to control fever) and close monitoring by their physician.  Persons should seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of hepatitis A infection.
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