Several states, including Georgia, are experiencing outbreaks of Hepatitis A, a very contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis virus (HAV) that can cause mild to severe illness. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks that are contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark urine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Symptoms usually start appearing four weeks after exposure but can occur as early as two and as late as seven weeks after exposure; however people can spread hepatitis A even if they don’t look or feel sick.
Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, is always an important tool to prevent the spread of this and many other diseases.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease. The best protection against HAV infections and outbreaks is through widespread vaccination, particularly among populations most at risk:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sexual encounters with other men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People with clotting factor disorders
- People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- People experiencing homelessness
Get more information on Hepatitis A.