Hepatitis A is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the liver from the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis Hepatitis A vaccine Hepatitis B Hepatitis C
Viral hepatitis; Infectious hepatitis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The hepatitis A virus is found mostly in the stools and blood of an infected person about 15 - 45 days before symptoms occur and during the first week of illness.
You can catch hepatitis A if:
- You eat or drink food or water that has been contaminated by stools (feces) containing the hepatitis A virus (fruits, vegetables, shellfish, ice, and water are common sources of the hepatitis A virus)
- You come in contact with the stool or blood of a person who currently has the disease
- A person with hepatitis A does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food
- You participate in sexual practices that involve oral-anal contact
About 3,600 cases of hepatitis A are reported each year. Because not everyone has symptoms with hepatitis A infection, many more people are infected than are diagnosed or reported.
Risk factors include:
- International travel, especially to Asia or South or Central America
- IV drug use
- Living in a nursing home or rehabilitation center
- Working in a health care, food, or sewage industry