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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is transmitted through the fecal-oral route. This can happen through:

  • Close person-to-person contact with an infected person
  • Sexual contact with an infected person
  • Ingestion of contaminated food or water
  • Although viremia occurs early in infection, current data indicate that bloodborne transmission of hepatitis A virus is uncommon.

Although anyone can get hepatitis A, in the United States, certain groups of people are at higher risk for getting infected and for having severe disease if they do get hepatitis A.

People at increased risk for HAV infection

  • International travelers
  • Men who have sex with men 
  • People who use injection or noninjection drugs (all those who use illegal drugs)
  • People with occupational risk for exposure
  • People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
  • People experiencing homelessness 

People at increased risk for severe disease from HAV infection

  • People with chronic liver disease
  • People with human immunodeficiency virus infection

Hepatitis A is a reportable disease in Oklahoma.

There is no treatment for hepatitis A , however it can be prevented with the hepatitis A vaccine, or for short-term immunity, hepatitis A immune globulin. The vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 12 months and older. It is a 2-dose series that is given 6 months apart from each other. Immune globulin is given to persons who have been exposed to a person with hepatitis A but it only offers protection for a short period of time. Besides the vaccine, the best way of prevention is to always wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food. 

If you have come in contact with a person that has hepatitis A, please contact your health care provider.

To treat the symptoms of hepatitis A, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. Some people with severe symptoms will need medical care in a hospital.