Hepatitis A

(Hep A)

Definition

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver. It can be passed easily from contaminated food, water, or close contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis
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Causes

Hepatitis A is caused by a specific virus. It may be spread by:
  • Drinking water contaminated by raw sewage
  • Eating food contaminated by the hepatitis A virus, especially if it has not been properly cooked
  • Eating raw or partially cooked shellfish contaminated by raw sewage
  • Sexual contact with a partner infected with the hepatitis A virus, especially as oral-anal contact
Hepatitis A is present in stool of people with the infection. They can spread the infection if they do not wash their hands after using the bathroom and touch other objects or food.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of hepatitis A infection include:
  • Having close contact with an infected person—although the virus is generally not spread by casual contact
  • Using household items that were used by an infected person and not properly cleaned
  • Having oral-anal sexual contact with an infected person
  • Traveling to or spending long periods of time in a country where hepatitis A is common or where sanitation is poor
  • Working as a childcare worker, changing diapers or toilet training children
  • Being in daycare centers
  • Being institutionalized
  • Injecting drugs—especially if you share needles
  • Receiving plasma products, common in conditions like hemophilia

Symptoms

Hepatitis A does not always cause symptoms. Adults are more likely to have them than children.Symptoms include:
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin—jaundice
  • Darker colored urine
  • Light or chalky colored stools
  • Rash

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