Hepatitis A infection is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Read the information below or download the facts about Hepatitis (Spanish) to learn more. Vaccines are available at our Immunization Clinic.
How is Hepatitis A spread?
Hepatitis A can be spread in several ways:
- By eating food contaminated by a person not washing their hands after using the bathroom. Both uncooked and cooked foods may be contaminated.
- By drinking contaminated water, though this is rare in developed countries like the United States.
- From close personal contact with an infected household member or sex partner.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
Some people, particularly young children usually do not show symptoms. Symptoms usually occur abruptly and can include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice – occurs in more than 70 percent of infected adults
Who should I contact if I believe I have been exposed to Hepatitis A?
Call your health care provider if you have any questions about potential exposure to Hepatitis A. If you don’t have a health care provider, contact your local health department.
What treatment options are available?
If you have been exposed to the Hepatitis A virus within the last 14 days and have not been vaccinated against it, you might benefit from either immune globulin or Hepatitis A vaccine.
How can I prevent the spread of Hepatitis A?
Frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A.
What is the difference between Hepatitis A, B and C?
There are three different types of Hepatitis (A, B and C).Each type is caused by a different virus. Although they can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently. There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B;however, there is not one for Hepatitis C. If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, they aren’t protected against other types.
Sources: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Centers for Disease Control