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Hepatitis A (HAV) is the virus that causes the liver disease Hepatitis A.
HAV is the most frequently reported vaccine-preventable disease in
the US, occurring as individual cases or community epidemics. Anyone can
get this infection, unless you have had the disease before or have had
the vaccine. While there is no chronic (long-term) state, HAV infection a
serious disease varying from a mild short term illness to one of
greater severity lasting several months.
Hepatitis A is passed in a person's feces (stool).
The infection is chiefly spread by putting something in the mouth
(even though it may look clean) that has been contaminated with the
stool of a person with HAV. Consuming contaminated food or water is
another way of getting the disease. Raw or undercooked shellfish from
contaminated waters can be a source as well.
Symptoms to look for:
Symptoms usually appear within 28 days after exposure. The contagious
period begins 2 weeks before symptoms and lasts about one week after
symptoms appear. About half of the adults who catch hepatitis A get
sick, and usually feel ill for about 2 weeks (sometimes longer). Only a
few children get sick when they catch hepatitis A. But all people who
catch the virus can spread it to others.
See a doctor immediately for treatment.
The only way to know if you have HAV infection is to have a blood test.
Check with your doctor or your local health department for advice.
There is no special treatment for HAV, but doctors usually recommend
rest, good diet, fluids, and avoiding alcohol. A few people may need to
Vaccine and Immune Globulin (IG) are ways to prevent getting hepatitis A.
Vaccination is the best way to protect against hepatitis A. Two doses of the vaccine given 6 months apart are needed for full, long term protection. Persons not previously vaccinated who have been recently exposed
should be given a single dose of hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin
(IG), depending on age and health status. The vaccine is routinely
recommended for persons 12 months of age and older:
Good personal hygiene is another prevention measure.
Wash hands with soap and water:
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