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Category: Gastroenterology | Hepatology

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Hepatitis A overview

Published: July 13, 2009. Updated: August 09, 2009

Hepatitis A is a disease affecting the liver, and caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (abbreviated HAV).

Only 3/4 people with hepatitis A have symptoms. Those symptoms may include:

  • Yellow eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting

Hepatitis A can be prevented by good hygiene and sanitation. Vaccination is also available, and is recommended in areas where the prevalence of hepatitis A is high. The CDC in 1991 reported a low mortality rate of 4 deaths per 1000 cases for the general population but a higher rate of 17.5 per 1000 in those aged 50 and over.

Hepatitis A outbreaks still occur in the United States and are usually traced to unsanitary conditions at restaurants, including but not limited to employees failing to wash their hands after restroom breaks. The most widespread Hepatitis A outbreak in American history afflicted at least 640 people (killing four) in northeastern Ohio and southwestern Pennsylvania in late 2003. In November of that year, the outbreak was blamed on tainted green onions (imported from Mexico) at a restaurant in Monaca, Pennsylvania.

The patient's immune system makes antibodies against Hepatitis A that confer immunity against future infection. A vaccine is available that will prevent infection from hepatitis A.


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