Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease. The virus is spread more easily in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed. Most infections result from contact with a household member or sex partner who has Hepatitis A. Casual contact such as in the office, factory, or school setting does not spread the virus.
People infected with Hepatitis A may not show any signs or symptoms of the disease and older persons are more likely to show symptoms than children. If symptoms are present, they usually occur abruptly and may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). People who develop Hepatitis A almost always recover from the illness without further complications.
A Hepatitis A vaccine is licensed for use in the US for people two years of age or older. This vaccine is recommended for use by at-risk individuals before exposure to the Hepatitis A virus. For persons already exposed to the Hepatitis A virus, immune globulin can be given. It must be given within two weeks of exposure to the Hepatitis A virus.
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