Hepatitis A

Jaundice Example

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A virus is found in the feces (poop) of people with hepatitis A. You can get hepatitis A by eating contaminated food or water, during sex, or just by living with an infected person. Illness can appear 15-50 days after exposure and you can be sick for several weeks. In some cases, hepatitis A can be fatal. Although not all people infected with hepatitis A experience illness, symptoms can include:

  • nausea/vomiting or loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain
  • feeling tired/fatigue
  • fever
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • dark urine
  • pale-colored feces (poop)
  • joint pain

Who is at a higher risk for hepatitis A?

  • Persons who are homeless or those living with transient housing.
  • Persons who are incarcerated.
  • Persons who use the injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
  • Persons who have close contact, care for or live with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Persons who have sexual activities with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Travelers to countries with high or medium rates of hepatitis A.
  • Persons with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.*
  • Persons with clotting factor disorders.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A - the hepatitis A vaccine is very effective!
  • Wash hands after using the restroom and before eating or preparing meals for yourself or others.
  • Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils.
  • Do not have sex with someone who has hepatitis A infection.
  • Do not share food, drinks, drugs, or smokes with other people.
  • If you think you may have hepatitis A, see your medical provider.
  • If you have hepatitis A, please cooperate with your local public health to help protect others.

What if you think you’ve been exposed?

Individuals who believe they have been exposed to hepatitis A or who have symptoms consistent with the virus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.  Anyone who wants to be vaccinated should contact their healthcare provider or their local health department.  If you (or someone you know) do not have health insurance, you may qualify for free or low-cost vaccines. Talk with your local health department to find out if you qualify.  Here is the Grand Traverse County Health Department, you can call us at 231-995-6131.