Hep A is a serious liver infection caused by the hep A virus, found in the stool of an infected person.
Everyone is susceptible to hep A, the virus that causes a hep A infection, unless they had the illness in the past or have been vaccinated against it. Some people are more susceptible, including those who:
Hep A is usually spread through feces (stool) by close personal contact with a person who is infected with hep A and/or by eating food or drinking water containing hep A. A person who has the infection can easily pass the disease to others in the same household.
Hep A can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from fever, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting to more serious problems, such as yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), severe stomach pains, and diarrhea that may require hospital admission.Some people get a hep A infection and have no symptoms of the disease. Most children younger than age 6do not have symptoms when they have hep A. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice, but most older children and adults with hep A have jaundice.
If symptoms occur, they will begin anywhere from 15-50 days after exposure, commonly around 30 days (four weeks) later. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.
A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before symptoms appear and for about one week after the onset of jaundice.
Yes, prior infection with hep A makes a person immune to later infection.
In rare instances, a hep A infection can result in liver failure and death.
No specific treatment exists for hep A. Your body will clear hep A on its own. Hep A treatment is supportive and mainly focuses on coping with your signs and symptoms.
There are safe and effective vaccines against hep A. One type is given as two shots, six months apart. The vaccine also comes in a combination form, containing both hep A and B vaccine, that can be given to persons 18 years of age and older. This vaccine is given as three shots, over a period of six months.
Yes, the hep A vaccines are highly effective in preventing hep A infection. Protection begins approximately two to four weeks after the first injection. The second dose results in long-term protection.
The best way to avoid infection with hep A is by vaccination with the hep A vaccine.
Hep A vaccine can be used to prevent infection, preferably within two weeks of last exposure to the hep A, in those 1-40 years old. Due to the risk of severe infection, those less than 1 year or over 40 years of age are preferably protected from a known exposure through an injection of Immune globulin (IG), but vaccine can also be used if IG is not available. If IG is used, protection is immediate but lasts only about three months, so vaccination is often given along with IG.
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