Hepatitis A virus is a vaccine-preventable, communicable virus affecting the liver. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.
It is usually spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with infected feces. Shellfish which have not been sufficiently cooked is a relatively common source. It may also be spread through close contact with an infectious person. While children often do not have symptoms when infected, they are still able to infect others. After a single infection, a person is immune for the rest of his or her life. Vaccination is the most efficient means to prevent infection.
Hepatitis A primarily affects the liver of infected persons. Symptoms do not always develop but may include:
- Pain in your belly
- Loss of appetite