What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a result of infection with the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness causing liver failure. Most people infected with the virus get well within 6 months. However, hepatitis A can be serious for older people and people who already have liver disease such as hepatitis B or C.
How is hepatitis A spread?
The hepatitis A virus is usually spread by putting something in your mouth that is contaminated with the virus. The virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A and is spread when someone's stool accidentally contaminates food or water. This can happen when an infected person does not adequately wash their hands after using the bathroom then touches other things such as food. When other people eat that food, they can get infected with hepatitis A. Usually the transmission is between people in very close personal contact.
Foods themselves can be contaminated with hepatitis A virus, such as raw oysters harvested from sewage-contaminated water. When people eat food contaminated with hepatitis A virus, they can get infected with the virus.
Hepatitis A is usually spread through:
- household contact with an infected person
- sexual contact with an infected person
- eating or drinking contaminated food or water
- sharing eating utensils that are contaminated
- touching contaminated surfaces and then placing your hands near or in the mouth
Symptoms may include the following:
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (called jaundice)
- Feeling very tired
- Stomach pain
- Not feeling very hungry
- Dark urine
- Low-grade fever
What are possible treatments?
There are no special treatments for hepatitis A. Most people with hepatitis A recover without treatment within a few months by getting a lot of rest and drinking plenty of fluids.
Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/hav/index.asp
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