Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver caused by 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 by contact with people who are infected or from contact with objects, food, water or drinks contaminated by the feces of an infected person, which can easily happen if someone doesn’t properly wash his or her hands after using the toilet.

Symptoms

Not all people with hepatitis A have symptoms. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.

If symptoms develop, they usually appear two to six weeks after being infected and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Gray-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Severe stomach pains and diarrhea (mainly in children)

Prevention

The hepatitis A vaccine (Hep A) can prevent infection with the virus.

For the best protection against hepatitis A, your children need to receive the two recommended doses of the Hep A vaccine. These doses should be given between 12 and 23 months and between 6 to 18 months after the first dose. To see if your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.