Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver transmitted by close personal contact, including sexual contact, or consumption of food or water contaminated by an infected person. Hepatitis A causes fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice for up to two months of infection. Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis A infection.
How is Hepatitis A Spread?
Hepatitis A infection spreads from an infected person to other by personal contact or contact with objects or food they handle:
- Ingestion of the virus through close personal contact with an infected person, such caring for someone who has hepatitis A or living in the same household as someone who is infected
- Consuming food or drink that is contaminated with feces of an infected person
- Handling objects or sharing objects that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person
Hepatitis A Prevention
Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A virus infection. Hepatitis A vaccination is especially important for persons at higher risk:
- People reporting drug use (IV and non-IV drugs)
- People who are currently or were recently in jail or prison
- People with unstable housing or homeless
- Men who have sex with men
- People who have been in close contact with someone infected with hepatitis A
In addition, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommends routine hepatitis A vaccination for the following people:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People with clotting-factor disorders
- Any person wishing to be protected against hepatitis A
Hepatitis A vaccine can be obtained through your healthcare provider or pharmacist. If you are uninsured or underinsured, vaccination is available through any county health department.