How to Protect Yourself: Hepatitis A

Ohio has seen an increase in Hepatitis A this year. Health Officials urge residents to take the proper precautions to prevent Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is vaccine-preventable and if exposed to, could give you symptoms such as, fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice that usually resolves within 2 months of infection.

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for:

  • All children at age 1 year
  • Close personal contacts (e.g. household, sexual) of Hepatitis A patients
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. Persons with chronic liver disease have an elevated risk of death from liver failure
  • People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates
  • Travelers to countries that have high rates of Hepatitis A
  • Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis is common

Hepatitis A is mainly transmitted one of two ways. The first way that is most commonly seen is through fecal-oral route. For example, ingestion of something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. The second way that the hepatitis A virus is transmitted is with uncooked foods contaminated with HAV as well as cooked foods that are not heated to temperatures capable of killing the virus during preparation (i.e. 185 degrees for one minute) and foods that are contaminated after cooking, as occurs in outbreaks associated with infected food handlers.

If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after infection and can include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

Symptoms are more likely to occur in adults than in children. They usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please contact your general physician immediately.

Kenton Hardin Health Department offers the Hepatitis A vaccine. Contact your local health department if you have questions or for more information at 419-673-6230.

The best way to protect yourself is by washing your hands or by getting a vaccination.