Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A

Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is swelling and tenderness of the liver resulting in liver swelling and tenderness.  Most people recover completely but death or serious illness can occur.

How is Hepatitis A spread?
The most common way the disease is spread is from person to person by hands contaminated with feces or as a result of poor personal hygiene when using the toilet. Outbreaks may be due to water or food being contaminated with feces, such as raw shellfish,  fruit, or other foods not cooked long enough at the correct temperature. 

How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Usually symptoms occur within 14-50 days after exposure.  The average time is about one month.  A person may be contagious up to 2-3 weeks before symptoms begin and up to one week after the symptoms first appear.

What do I do if I am exposed or notice symptoms?  How is Hepatitis A treated?
If you have been exposed to Hepatitis A, it is recommended that you received the Hepatitis A vaccine within 14 days of exposure to prevent illness.  There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A infection.  It is important to see a doctor during the course of the infection to confirm the diagnosis.  Your doctor may recommend supportive measures such as rest, change in diet, or increase in fluid intake.

How can Hepatitis A be prevented?
Good sanitation and personal hygiene are key to preventing Hepatitis A.  Wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating or preparing food, after using the bathroom, or after diapering/toileting a small child.

There is a vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis A infection, which is also recommended for persons traveling to areas where Hepatitis A is common (www.cdc.gov/travel).

If you are exposed to Hepatitis A, receiving treatment within two weeks of exposure may prevent disease.

Persons with acute Hepatitis A whose work involves food preparation must avoid such work until they are no longer infectious, to avoid transmitting this disease to others.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm
Symptoms of Hepatitis A

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Tiredness

  • Loss of appetite and/or nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
February 2020