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What is Hepatitis A?

It is an infection caused by the hepatitis A virus leading to inflammation of the liver. The infection is usually short lived and while the symptoms can be unpleasant, it is rarely serious.

Hepatitis A key facts

  • Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness.
  • The symptoms are generally a flu-like illness, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, abdominal pains or jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes or skin). The infection will clear with time and there are no long-term effects.
  • The infection can be caused by hand to mouth contact of something that has been contaminated by the stools (poo) of someone with hepatitis A. This could be food or water or by putting the hands in the mouth. This is different from Hepatitis B or C which are blood borne viruses.
  • Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity. A very small proportion of people infected with hepatitis A could develop serious complications.
  • A safe and effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A.
  • Safe water supply, food safety, improved sanitation, hand washing and the hepatitis A vaccine are the most effective ways to combat the disease.

Further information