~A vaccine-preventable illness~


Hepatitis A is a viral hepatitis transmitted in food. It is considered to be a highly contagious liver infection. Immunizations for Hepatitis A are available in order to prevent HAV infection. Good hygiene and sanitation can also prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

History and Background

Hepatitis A Virus(HAV) was isolated by Purcell in 1973. He also determined that humans appear to be the only reservoir for this virus. The frequency of HAV has declined with the improvement of better hygiene practices.

According to the CDC, before a vaccine for HAV became available, more than 250,000 people were infected with Hepatitis A each year. The first Hep A vaccine became licensed in 1995.



According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people may not show any symptoms. If there are symptoms, they will include:



-Loss of appetite



-Stomach pain

-Dark colored urine

-Clay colored bowel

-Joint pain


Symptoms usually occur 2-6 weeks after exposure and can last up to 2 months.



Hepatitis A is spread from person to person contact. More specifically through body fluids. If an infected person comes into contact with another person, they may become infected now with Hepatitis A. The illness is also spread by contaminated food or water. In the United States, Chlorine is used to disinfect water.


According to Mayo Clinic, only in very rare cases hepatitis A can cause loss of liver function. This is more likely to occur in an adult that has a preexisting liver problem. This acute liver failure will require hospitalization for monitoring and possible treatment. In extreme cases, patients that acquire acute liver failure may need a liver transplant.


Prevention and recommended control measures

Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection. The vaccine is generally given in two doses with an original vaccine first and a booster vaccine 6 months later.

CDC recommends the following individuals receive a hepatitis A vaccine:

  • All children at age 1
  • Lab workers who are at risk to come in contact with hepatitis A
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People traveling to areas of with high rates of hepatitis A
  • People who use injected and non-injected drugs
  • People who receive treatment with clotting-factor concentrates
  • People with chronic liver disease

Be sure to practice safety precautions when traveling. Do not drink beverages of unknown purity and be sure to wash produce. Choose bottled water if available.

Also, be sure to practice good hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly.