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Health Information For Teens
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is also called infectious hepatitis.
HAV spreads through the feces (poop) of infected individuals. Someone can become infected by eating, drinking, or touching something (such as doorknobs or diapers) that’s been contaminated by poop. Childcare centers are a common site of outbreaks.
HAV can spread:
Hepatitis A can stay in a person’s poop for several months after the initial illness, especially in babies and younger children.
A safe and very effective vaccine against HAV became available in 1995. HAV infections now are rare in the United States and other developed countries with good sanitation and clean living conditions.
People who haven’t been immunized can get an HAV infection if they:
Hepatitis A can be a mild infection, particularly in kids younger than 6. Many people might not ever know that they had an infection.
If someone does have symptoms, they usually start 2 to 6 weeks after the person was exposed to the virus. Someone with HAV might have:
HAV infections that cause serious symptoms can last for weeks or even months. Some people with HAV can feel ill for up to 6 months.
Doctors can do a blood test to look for HAV antibodies. Many mild HAV infections go undetected.
No specific medicines are used to treat hepatitis A. The infection will go away on its own, usually within a few weeks or months.
In rare cases, HAV can cause liver failure. If that happens, the person will need a liver transplant.
Unlike some other hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A rarely leads to long-lasting liver damage. Within a few weeks, the symptoms will have gone away on their own and the virus won’t be in a person’s system.
After recovering, a person is immune to the virus for the rest of his or her life.
Yes. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children over 1 year old. Having many young kids vaccinated against HAV can limit the spread of the disease in a community.
The vaccine also is recommended for older kids, teens, and adults who have never gotten it.
If you babysit or take care of young kids, be sure to wash your hands well and often, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.
Hepatitis, an infectious liver disease, is more contagious than HIV. Find out about the different types of hepatitis.
Hepatitis B can move from one person to another through blood and other body fluids. For this reason, people usually get it through unprotected sex or by sharing needles.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through blood or other body fluids, and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The most common way people become infected is by sharing drug paraphernalia.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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