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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is easily spread from person to person (highly contagious). It is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis is a redness or swelling (inflammation) of the liver that sometimes causes lasting damage. Hepatitis A is one type of hepatitis.

In most cases, hepatitis A does not cause a long-term (chronic) infection. But it can take some time to fully get well. You may be sick for a few weeks. But it may take up to 6 months or longer to fully recover.

In rare cases hepatitis A can cause severe liver damage, leading to death.

What causes hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is often spread when the virus is taken in by mouth. This happens when you have contact with objects, food, or drinks that are contaminated by the stool of an infected person.

This may happen through person-to-person contact such as:

  • When an infected person doesn’t wash their hands well after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food
  • When a parent or caregiver doesn’t wash their hands well after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of someone who is infected
  • When you have sex with someone who is infected

This can also happen if you:

  • Eat food made by someone who touched infected stool
  • Drink water that is contaminated by infected stool (a problem in developing countries)
  • In rare cases, the virus may also be spread by contamination from blood and other body fluids (blood-borne infection).  
  • In most cases, normal contact in school or at work won’t spread the virus.

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