Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is one of the most widely reported diseases that is preventable by a vaccine…
What is hepatitis A, and what causes it?
Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is one of the most widely reported diseases that is preventable by a vaccine.
Other viruses can cause hepatitis, most commonly the Hepatitis B and C viruses. However, hepatitis has many causes, including certain medications, long-term alcohol use, and exposure to certain industrial chemicals. Viral hepatitis can be spread from one person to another, but the other types of hepatitis cannot.
How is Hepatitis A spread?
The virus is spread mainly by oral contact with stool containing the virus. If contaminated stool gets into the water or food supply, the virus may infect anyone who drinks the water or eats the food. This is how most people around the world become infected with hepatitis A.
In the United States, most people become infected through contact with a household member who has the virus (such as when changing a diaper) or a sex partner who is infected. Sometimes large groups of people become infected after eating in a restaurant. This usually happens when an employee with the virus prepares food after not washing his or her hands well after using the bathroom. Outbreaks may also occur in day care centers and other facilities which involve close contact.
In rare cases, Hepatitis A can be spread through sexual contact or contact with blood from a person who has the virus circulating in his or her bloodstream. The virus is present in the blood before symptoms appear. Transmission through blood transfusions, while possible, seldom occurs