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Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause inflammation of the liver.
  • Symptoms of hepatitis A infection may include jaundice (yellow eyes or skin), abdominal pain, dark urine, pale (light-colored) stool, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • The illness usually occurs between 15 to 50 days after exposure to the virus.
  • Hepatitis A is very contagious, meaning it can spread easily from person to person.
  • It is usually spread by the fecal-oral route, when an infected person doesn’t wash his/her hands well, and then contaminates food, drinks, or objects that others put in their mouth.
  • Outbreaks can occur from contaminated food, but also more recently have been reported throughout the United States among persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, and/or who are homeless.
  • People are infectious from two weeks before to one week after onset of jaundice or elevation of liver enzymes.

A safe effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A infection and is part of the routine recommended vaccination schedule for all children (at age 1 year) and for certain adults with increased risk for hepatitis A or severe disease. See below for more information.

Hepatitis A vaccine can also decrease the risk of infection in people exposed to hepatitis A if given within two weeks of exposure. HCA Epidemiology will assist in recommendations for post-exposure prophylaxis of contacts of cases.

Hepatitis A is reportable in Orange County within one (1) working day of identification. To report a case, health care providers/facilities should call OCHCA Communicable Disease Control Division at 714-834-8180 or fax records to 714-560-4050.

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