By: Ian Strickland
Symptoms: include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever
Pain areas: in the abdomen, joints, or muscles
Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
Whole body: fatigue, fever, or loss of appetite
Also common: dark urine, itching, weight loss, or yellow skin and eyes
Critical: consult a doctor for medical advice
The hepatitis A virus, which causes the infection, usually is spread when a person ingests even tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter. The hepatitis A virus infects liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can impair liver function and cause other signs and symptoms of hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted several ways, such as:
Eating food handled by someone with the virus who doesn't thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the toilet.
Drinking contaminated water.
Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage.
Being in close contact with a person who's infected — even if that person has no signs or symptoms.
Having sex with someone who has the virus.
Immune Cells involved in the immune response
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following individuals receive a hepatitis A vaccine:
All children at age 1, or older children who didn't receive the vaccine at age 1
Laboratory workers who may come in contact with hepatitis A
Men who have sex with men
People planning travel to areas of the world with high rates of hepatitis A
People who use illegal drugs, injected and noninjected
People who receive treatment with clotting-factor concentrates
People with chronic liver disease
If you're concerned about your risk of hepatitis A, ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated.
Follow safety precautions when traveling
If you're traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth. Don't drink beverages of unknown purity, with or without ice. If bottled water isn't available, boil tap water before drinking it.