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					General Public Fact Sheet   Kent County Health Department
                            Hepatitis A Fact Sheet
                            What is hepatitis A?                                Note: A person who has symptoms of
                            Hepatitis A is a liver disease. It is caused by     jaundice or been diagnosed with hepatitis
                            the Hepatitis A virus (HAV).                        A should not work as a food handler or
                                                                                take care of patients, children or senior
                            What are the symptoms?                              citizens.
                            Symptoms usually start within six weeks
                            after being infected. They include:               How is hepatitis A diagnosed and
                               •   Yellow eyes (jaundice)                     A blood test done by your doctor is needed to
                               •   Dark urine                                 diagnose hepatitis A.
                               •   Nausea
                               •   Fever                                      There is no special treatment for hepatitis A
                               •   Tiredness                                  infection. Infected people should get a lot of
                               •   Loss of appetite                           bed rest, eat a balanced diet, drink fluids,
                               •   Stomach ache                               avoid alcohol, and wash hands thoroughly
                               •   Vomiting                                   with soap and running water after using the
                            Children rarely show symptoms of infection.
                            Three of every four adults will have              Infected people should not share towels,
                            symptoms which develop over several days.         washcloths, or soap, share eating utensils, or
                                                                              make or handle food that will be eaten by
                                                                              others until at least two weeks after their
                            How is hepatitis A spread?                        jaundice appears or symptoms are gone.
                            HAV is found in the stool (bowel
                            movement). It is spread from person to            Is hepatitis A serious?
                            person by putting something in the mouth          Symptoms usually last less than two months.
                            that has been contaminated with the infected      In a few cases, people can be sick for as long
                            stool.                                            as six months.
                            Poor personal hygiene and poor sanitation are     Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A
                            the most common causes of HAV. Most               does not cause any long-term liver damage.
                            infections result from contact with a             It usually does not cause death. Once a
                            household member or sex partner who has           person has recovered from HAV, he will
                            hepatitis A. Casual contact (school, office or    never get HAV again. In a few cases, there
                            factory setting) does not spread the virus.       can be more serious complications which
                                                                              may require hospitalization.
                            A person can spread HAV about one week
                            before symptoms are seen and during the first
                                                                              How can hepatitis A be
                            week of symptoms. People with no
                            symptoms can also spread HAV.                     prevented?
                                                                              To prevent hepatitis A:

                                                                                 • Wash your hands after using the
 Hepatitis A Fact Sheet – page 2
   • Wash your hands after changing a              • People who have clotting factor
     diaper.                                         disorders such as hemophilia.

   • Wash your hands before and after              • People who work with HAV-infected
     making or eating food.                          animals or work with HAV in a
                                                     research setting.
   • Wash fruits and vegetables before
     eating.                                    Hepatitis A vaccine is generally not
                                                recommended for health care workers or food
   • Cook shellfish completely.                 service workers.

   • Immune globulin can be given before        How to wash your hands
     exposure for short-term protection         1. Use warm water and liquid soap.
     against hepatitis A. It is also given to
     people who have been exposed to            2. Lather all parts of the hands and rub
     HAV. Immune globulin must be                  briskly for 20 seconds. Be sure to include:
     given within two weeks after exposure
     for the greatest protection.                        • the backs of your hands
                                                         • between your fingers
   • Hepatitis A vaccines provide long-                  • wrists
     term protection against hepatitis A.
     They are licensed for use in people        3. Use a brush or nail file to clean under
     two years of age and older.                   your fingernails.

Who should get vaccinated                       4. Rinse well under warm running water.
against hepatitis A?
The hepatitis vaccination is recommended for    5. Dry hands with a paper towel or air
the following groups:                              dryer. Don’t use a cloth towel.

   • People traveling to or working in          6. Turn off the water using the paper towel
     countries that have high or                   instead of your clean hands.
     intermediate rates of hepatitis A.
                                                This fact sheet is for information only and is
                                                not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a
   • Children in communities with
                                                substitute for talking with a health care
     constant higher rates of hepatitis A.
                                                provider. If you have any questions about
     The Health Department can tell you         hepatitis A or think you may have it, call your
     whether your area has these higher         health care provider.

   • Men who have sex with men.

   • People who use illegal (street) drugs.
                                                             ©2004 Kent County Health Department
   • People who have chronic liver disease.                  700 Fuller Ave NE
                                                             Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503