1. What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can cause liver disease, which may last a few weeks and sometimes progress to a serious illness lasting months. In some cases, people can die, but in most cases the infection is self-limiting.
2. How is Hepatitis A spread?
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.
3. What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?
HAV does not always cause symptoms. Symptoms, when present, include fever, fatigue, and nausea, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), stomach pain, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, and diarrhea. HAV can rarely cause liver failure and even death. Symptoms can develop 15 to 50 days after being infected. HAV can be spread up to two weeks before and one week after noticing symptoms. It can also be spread by individuals who are infected, but do not have symptoms.
4. What are the details of the current outbreak in Los Angeles?
Current updates from the Department of Public Health can be found here:
5. How can Hepatitis A be prevented?
Persons who come into direct contact with a person who has, or may have, Hepatitis A should wear disposable gloves, and wash hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They should avoid consuming food or water that may be contaminated. The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination with the Hepatitis A vaccine. The Hepatitis A vaccine series consists of two shots 6 months apart. The vaccine is extremely safe and effective. Protection is high even after just one shot. Many people have already been vaccinated for Hepatitis A, either in childhood or before travel to a high-risk area. Any person who has received the 2-shot series is generally protected for life.
More information regarding hepatitis A can be found here.