Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus causes liver inflammation and affects liver’s ability to function. People are most likely to get hepatitis A from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water or from close contact with a person or object that is infected. When hepatitis A viruses pass into the bloodstream and the liver through the lining of intestine, they cause acute infection and inflammation, presenting with fatigue, malaise, abdominal pain or discomfort, fever, loss of appetite and jaundice –yellowing of the skin and the whites of eyes. These signs and symptoms usually exhibit 2-4 weeks after exposure to the viruses. Mild cases of hepatitis A do not require treatment. Most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage and a lifelong immunity.
People Who Should Get Hepatitis A Vaccine
Practicing good hygiene and frequent hand washing are the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Hepatitis A vaccine is suggested for the following people:
- All children at age 1
- Patients with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- Family, caregivers or people in direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use any type of illicit drugs
- Chefs who regularly cook foods
- People who work or travel in parts of the world where hepatitis A is common should get vaccination 1 month before traveling.
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