The hepatitis A virus causes disease of the liver and is spread by eating contaminated food or from person to person. While the symptoms are generally mild, they can become more severe and last up to 6 months.
Symptoms usually develop 28 days (but range from 15 to 50 days) after catching the virus – although many people infected with hepatitis A, especially children, show few or no symptoms.
If there are symptoms, they can be mild lasting only a week or two; or severe lasting up to six months. They can include:
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- clay-coloured stools
- joint pain
- jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin).
Most people fully recover from hepatitis A.
This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following hepatitis A infection. Please speak to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about hepatitis A.
The hepatitis A virus can survive outside the body, living on hands for several hours and even longer in food stored at room temperature.
The virus is found in the faeces of an infected person – it generally spreads to others if food or water becomes contaminated with their faeces. It can also be spread by direct person-to-person contact.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at greater risk of infection and hospitalisation than non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
You may have higher risk of infection if:
- you travel to areas where hepatitis A is common
- there is an occupational or lifestyle risk of exposure to hepatitis A
- you have a chronic liver condition.
- you have not been immunised
Other people may be at risk of hepatitis A infection. Please speak to a healthcare professional regarding your individual circumstances.
Practicing good hand hygiene can help to prevent the spread of hepatitis A. This includes washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, after changing nappies and before handling, preparing or eating food.
The risk of hepatitis A can be reduced through immunisation.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.In most cases it gets better without treatment. You can relieve symptoms by:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- avoiding medicines that affect your liver
- avoiding alcohol
For severe cases, some people may need to be hospitalised
Please speak to a healthcare professional for more information about hepatitis A prevention and treatment options.
You can get hepatitis A by consuming contaminated food or water.
It is important to plan ahead and see your doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel to discuss prevention options and travel health.
PM-AU-AVX-WCNT-190034 Date of GSK Approval: January 2021