Hepatitis is a liver disease
It is caused by a virus. Anyone can get or spread hepatitis A. About a third of hepatitis A cases
occur in children.
Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of infected people. It usually spreads through close personal
contact, or by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the virus.
People with hepatitis A – including children – can easily pass the virus to others in the same household.
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Symptoms may be easy to miss
Hepatitis A can sometimes cause serious illness. About 1 in 5 people with hepatitis A ends up in
the hospital. Much of the time, however, infected people have milder symptoms.
Infants and young children often do not look or feel sick. Older children and adults are more likely to have symptoms.
When there are symptoms, they usually occur 3 or 4 weeks after exposure to the virus, and
Once symptoms appear, no special medicines are used to treat it. Bed rest helps and most people
recover in a few days.
- Feeling tired all the time
- Poor appetite, nausea, or vomiting
- Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)
Anyone with hepatitis A – including children –can spread it to others, even if they don’t have symptoms.
People who recover from hepatitis A can no longer get or spread the disease. They are immune (protected) for life.
Should your child be vaccinated?
Vaccination prevents hepatitis A in children AND adults. Two doses at least 6 months
apart are needed for lasting protection.
The following children should be vaccinated:
For best protection, the first dose should be received at least a month before travel. But good protection is provided even when the first dose is received just 2 weeks before travel.
- All children ages 12 to 23 months.
- Those who live or go to school in neighborhoods where hepatitis A is common.
- Those who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common, including the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and parts of Asia.
You can ask your doctor about getting a Hepatitis A vaccine or search for vaccine providers and other medical services in your area or go to one of the Health Department's Immunization Walk-in Clinics.
Always wash hands thoroughly
Vaccination is the BEST way to protect against hepatitis A. It is also important to wash your
hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers and before
eating or preparing food.
► Learn more about Hepatitis A Vaccine
Last Updated: August 1, 2013