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Hepatitis A

What is hepatitis A?
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
How is hepatitis A spread?
How can I keep from getting hepatitis A?
If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis A, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
How long is someone with hepatitis A contagious?
What treatments are available for hepatitis A? How serious is the disease?
What is the Health Department doing to prevent the spread of hepatitis A?
How many cases of hepatitis A are reported in Northern Kentucky each year?
Where can I get more information on hepatitis A?

What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver.  It is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Symptoms vary greatly from severe to none at all. They include:

What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.

How is hepatitis A spread?A fast food worker
For the most part, hepatitis A is spread when a person does not wash his or her hands after using the toilet or changing diapers, and later prepares food.

The virus may also be spread by eating contaminated raw or undercooked foods.  

How can I keep from getting hepatitis A?

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus.

Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.

If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis A, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
It usually takes two to six weeks (most commonly one month) from the time a person is exposed to the virus until symptoms develop.

How long is someone with hepatitis A contagious?
The contagious period is from two weeks before to one week after symptoms develop.
 
What treatments are available for hepatitis A? How serious is the disease?
There are two inoculations that can be used to prevent hepatitis A.

The first is immune globulin, which is a preparation of antibodies that can be given within two weeks after exposure to the virus.  This will help your body fight the virus. It is 85 percent effective in preventing hepatitis A. A single dose can provide protection for up to three months.

The second inoculation is a hepatitis A vaccine, which is a series of two shots, given six months apart. Protection against hepatitis A does not begin until four weeks after the first dose of the vaccine; therefore, it is not used for prevention after exposure. Once the vaccine series is completed, protection will last for at least 20 years.

What is the Health Department doing to prevent the spread of hepatitis A?
The Health Departmentis always on the look out for ways to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.  

Food safety inspectors work with restaurant owners to train them in proper hand washing and food preparation techniques. Inspectors check to make sure that local restaurants are getting their foods from approved sources, and that employees who prepare foods are handling foods with clean or gloved hands. Hepatitis A prevention is covered in the food manager’s program.

The Health Department also works with child care centers and schools to prevent the spread of disease among children. We encourage those who are changing diapers to wash their hands frequently.

How many cases of hepatitis A are reported in Northern Kentucky each year?
An average of six cases per year are reported to the Health Department.

Where can I get more information on hepatitis A?
For more information, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  or the Food and Drug Administration or you can call the Health Department at 859.341.4264.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration