Hepatitis A infection causes a range of symptoms from non-specific nausea and vomiting, through to liver inflammation and jaundice. It can also cause liver failure.
It is normally spread by the faecal-oral route but can also be spread occasionally through blood contamination.
Good hygiene including safe drinking water and food handling and good hand washing practice prevents infection.1
The following is a summary about the disease. For further details speak to your local pharmacist or GP.
The infection can be spread by:
Someone with hepatitis A is most infectious from around 2 weeks before their symptoms appear until about a week after the symptoms first develop.2
Hepatitis A is found worldwide, but areas where it is most widespread include:
The full list can be found here.3
The symptoms of hepatitis A develop, on average, around 4 weeks after becoming infected. Children often do not get any symptoms. Symptoms are common in adults and get worse with age. These can include:
In rare cases hepatitis A can cause the liver to stop working properly (liver failure).
In addition to the symptoms above, signs of liver failure can include:
Get medical advice as soon as possible if experiencing these symptoms. Liver failure can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
Treatment for hepatitis A is symptomatic.
For further information to help with treating symptoms speak to your pharmacist or GP.
The spread of hepatitis A can be minimised by:
Remember: BOIL IT, COOK IT, PEEL IT OR FORGET IT!
Vaccination is recommended for those traveling to countries where risk of hepatitis A infection is considered to be high.
In countries where there is a lower risk of hepatitis A infection, other factors need to be considered.
Travellers who may be at increased risk of hepatitis A infection include:
Vaccination is highly recommended if visiting areas where drinking water may be unsafe and where hygiene and sanitation is poor.
Hepatitis A is an inactivated vaccine. It is available for adults and children. The hepatitis A single vaccine is given as two doses:
The vaccine stimulates the body to make antibodies against the virus. These antibodies protect against illness should infection with the virus occur.
Combination vaccines are also available:
The doses of the combined vaccines need to be given at slightly different time intervals. The travel clinic pharmacist will be able to provide further information.
This information is taken from trusted third party websites, NaTHNaC (Travel Health Pro) and EMIS (Patient info) and use of all information has been licenced under the Open Government Licence http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/.
Although the materials are being used/replicated under the provisions of the Open Government Licence this in no way represents endorsement of Traveljab.co.uk by NaTHNaC, Emis, Public Health England, the NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care.