Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. Hepatitis A is very contagious. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus — even in microscopic amounts — through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink. Symptoms of hepatitis A can last up to 2 months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and jaundice. Most people with hepatitis A do not have long-lasting illness. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated.

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.

Among older children and adults, infection is typically symptomatic. Symptoms usually occur abruptly and can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

Most (70%) of infections in children younger than age 6 are not accompanied by symptoms. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice; most (>70%) older children and adults with HAV infection have this symptom

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