Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatovirus hepatitis. Most
commonly transmitted by the fecal-oral route, such as contaminated food, hepatitis A does not
typically have a chronic stage and does not cause permanent liver damage.
Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop between 2 and 6 weeks after infection. The symptoms
are usually not too severe and go away on their own, over time. The most common symptoms are
Diarrhea, especially in children
Loss of appetite
Hepatitis A vaccine, Avaxim, protects against the virus in more than 95% of cases and provides
protection from the virus for ten years. The vaccine contains inactivated Hepatitis A virus
providing active immunity against a future infection.
There are no specific ways or medications to treat Hepatitis A, there are only ways to alleviate the
The most widespread hepatitis A outbreak in American history affected at least 640 people in
north-eastern Ohio and south-western Pennsylvania in late 2003. This outbreak caused 4 deaths.
Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A does not cause chronic (ongoing, long-term)
disease. Although the liver does become inflamed and swollen, it heals completely in most people
without any long-term damage. Once you have had hepatitis A, you develop lifelong immunity and
cannot get the disease again.
It is must common in developing countries where it is usually contracted during early childhood.
You can get it through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water,
ice, or shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other
foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent
According to Koslap-Petraco, Shub, and Judelsohn (2008), Hepatitis A "can be stable in the
environment for several months and is able to survive freezing" (p. 3). Further, Hepatitis A can
cause problems during pregnancy, such as "premature contractions, placental separation,
premature membrane rupture, and preterm labor"