In general, hepatitis is a serious liver disease. The most common viral strains include hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
What it is: Hepatitis A is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. HAV is found in stool of persons with Hepatitis A. A person who has Hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.
How it spreads: It is usually spread by close personal contact and sometimes by eating food or drinking water that contains Hepatitis A.
What it causes: Hepatitis A can cause:
- Mild “flu-like” symptoms
- Severe stomach pains and diarrhea
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
What to do: Some people should routinely be vaccinated with Hepatitis A vaccine:
- All children 12-23 months of age.
- Persons 1 year of age and older traveling to or working in countries with high or intermediate prevalence of Hepatitis A, such as those located in Central or South America, Mexico, Asia (except Japan), Africa, and eastern Europe. Do your research before you travel.
- Children and adolescents through 18 years of age who live in states or communities where routine vaccination has been implemented because of high disease incidence.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Persons who use street drugs.
- Persons with chronic liver disease.
- Persons who are treated with clotting factor concentrates.
- Persons who work with HAV-infected primates or who work with HAV in research laboratories.
Other people get Hepatitis A vaccine in special situations:
- Hepatitis A vaccine might be recommended for children or adolescents in communities where outbreaks of Hepatitis A are occurring.
Hepatitis A vaccine series consists of 2 doses of vaccine separated by 6 months.