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Hepatitis A is a virus that infects and can damage the liver. It is usually passed from one person to another through fecal contaminated food or water in places where the water supply is not sanitized. People who get hepatitis A generally get better and have no further complications. While infected some people can feel very ill from flu-like symptoms. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
The symptoms of Hepatitis A may include fatigue (feeling tired), poor appetite, fever and vomiting. Some people may have dark yellow urine and/or jaundice (yellowish skin and whites of the eyes).
Most people get better in a few weeks without any complications. Infants and young children tend to have very mild symptoms and are less likely to develop jaundice than are older children and adults. Not everyone who is infected will have all of these symptoms.
How soon after infection do symptoms appear?
The symptoms may appear two to six weeks after exposure, but usually within three to four weeks.
How is Hepatitis A virus spread?
The hepatitis A virus enters the body through the mouth and
is passed in the stool (feces). The virus can then be carried on an infected person's hands and can be spread by direct contact, or by consuming food or drink that has been handled by the individual.
In some cases, it can be spread by drinking water that has been contaminated with improperly treated sewage. Sexual practices that allow oral or hand contact with stool may result in person-to-person transmission.
For how long is an infected person able to spread the virus?
The contagious period begins about 2 weeks before the symptoms appear, and ends 1 week after the person
Does past infection with Hepatitis A make a person immune?
Yes. Once an individual recovers from Hepatitis A, he or she is immune (protected) for life and does not continue to carry the Hepatitis A virus.
How is Hepatitis A diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects Hepatitis A, he/she can request a blood test to check for Hepatitis A antibodies.
What is the treatment for Hepatitis A?
There are no special medicines or antibiotics that can be used to treat a person once the symptoms appear. Generally, bed rest and not drinking alcoholic beverages is all that is needed.
How can Hepatitis A be prevented?
To prevent person-to-person spread, careful hand washing with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers is the single most important way to prevent infection.
Avoid sexual practices that may result in hand or mouth exposure to stool (feces), such as anal sex or oral-anal contact. Free NYC Condoms are available in many locations to help keep you safe and healthy.
If you travel to a country where Hepatitis A is common, use bottled water or boil tap water for one minute before using. Be cautious about eating shellfish which may have come from a contaminated water source.
h5>For long-term protection, immunization (getting a vaccine) is recommended
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.
► Learn about Hepatitis A Vaccine
Last Updated: August 1, 2013