Areas of heightened disease reporting: LO HI

Hepatitis A

Spread By Food and Water

Data Source For Areas Affected

The maps designate countries considered to be affected by a disease. Areas within countries may or may not be affected by a specific disease. Consult with a Travel Healthcare Provider or about your specific itinerary prior to travel.

Reporting activity data are provided by Sitata and derived from numerous sources, including official surveillance data and news reports. Reporting activity does not reflect current risk of infection with a disease. Not all areas report cases of disease; therefore, the absence of activity on the map does not indicate that a disease is not present. The relationship between the intensity of reporting activity and actual disease transmission is unknown and does not indicate a difference in risk. Maps do not reflect differential distribution of diseases within a country.

What Is It?

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a virus.

Hepatitis A virus is widespread and can be found in multiple regions of the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Symptoms of hepatitis A vary and depend on the age of the person infected. Children under age six may have mild disease or not have any symptoms at all. Older children and adults may have mild to severe symptoms, and recovery may be slow.If people do have symptoms, they may include sudden onset of fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Most people recover with no lasting liver damage. The likelihood of death is low, however, symptoms of hepatitis A can last from one to six months and may be disabling for some.

How is it Acquired?

Contaminated food and water are common ways that hepatitis A is spread.

Hepatitis A is spread by human waste containing the virus. Poor sanitary conditions, as well as poor personal hygiene, may lead to the spread of hepatitis A.

Factors that may increase the likelihood of acquiring hepatitis A include:

  • Not following safe food and water practices and hygiene methods
  • Using recreational drugs (oral or intravenous)
  • Having a clotting-factor disorder such as hemophilia
  • Having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis A virus
  • Living with or caring for a person infected with the hepatitis A virus

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of hepatitis A vary and depend on the age of the person infected.

Children under age six may have mild disease or no symptoms at all. Among older children and adults, symptoms may range from mild to severe. These may include:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

However, symptoms of hepatitis A can last from one to six months and may be severe enough to be disabling and lead to loss of productivity. The risk of death is low, and most people recover with no lasting liver damage.

Precautions to Take

Some hepatitis A precautions include:

  • Only drinking and using safe water for all your activities
  • Washing hands often with soap and water
  • Eating food that is cooked and served hot
  • Only eating fruits and vegetables that have been washed in clean water and that you peeled yourself

Speak with your healthcare provider about whether you should be vaccinated for hepatitis A.

Check out the Food and Water Safety Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.

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