This article is about hepatitis A, which is a viral infection that affects the human liver. It is not generally life threatening. It has been commonly known as infectious hepatitis in years past, but that term is used less often today.
What causes hepatitis A Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can be spread individually or in epidemic-sized outbreaks.
Hepatitis A virus is found in fecal matter that comes from someone who has who already has hepatitis A.
Many individuals are infected after drinking water in areas of the world where drinking water is contaminated with raw sewage.
How do you get hepatitis A? Persons in the following circumstances are at a higher risk for hepatitis A.
- Anyone who has household contact with somebody who has hepatitis A.
- Anyone who uses illegal drugs that are administered by in injection. Needles used by persons infected with the hepatitis A virus are especially dangerous.
- Having sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis A.
- Persons, especially children, living in regions where hepatitis A is prevalent or an outbreak is in progress.
- Travelers who visit countries where hepatitis A is common or there’s an outbreak.
Hepatitis A is most common in Central & South America, Africa, South Asia.
More hepatitis A facts The overall case-fatality rate among hepatitis A patients is about one-third of one percent. The hepatitis A rate is significantly higher however, in persons over 50 years old (1.8 percent).
A hepatitis A infection may be mild, in which case it will last a week or two. It can also manifest in a severe, disabling form that lasts several months.
If you have hepatitis A once, you develop an immunity and you cannot get it again.
You can generally avoid getting hepatitis A through good personal hygiene and living in a clean, sanitary environment.
Is hepatitis A contagious? Hepatitis A is very contagious. It is transmitted through contaminated food or water, by contact with fecal material that finds its way into the digestive system, or through household contact with the hepatitis A virus.