About Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person

Who Should Be Vaccinate for Hepatitis A?

Although everyone is vulnerable to being affected by Hepatitis A, there are certain groups of people who are at a much higher risk:

How Common is Hepatitis A in the United States?

In the United States, there were an estimated 25,000 new Hepatitis A virus infections in 2007. (However, the official number of reported Hepatitis A cases is much lower since many people who are infected never have symptoms and are never reported to public health officials.)

Is Hepatitis A Decreasing in the United States?

Yes. Rates of Hepatitis A in the United States are the lowest they have been in 40 years. The Hepatitis A vaccine was introduced in 1995 and health professionals now routinely vaccinate all children, travelers to certain countries, and persons at risk for the disease. Many experts believe Hepatitis A vaccination has dramatically affected rates of the disease in the United States.

Possible Symptoms of Hepatitis A

Possible symptoms include:

  • Short, mild, flu-like illness
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and whites of eyes, darker yellow urine and pale feces)
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain

If experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately for emergency care.

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/ & http://www.avert.org/hepatitis-b-c.htm

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