is a communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized 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.
In 2017, a total of 3,366 cases of hepatitis A were reported in the United States, but due to underreporting, the actual number of cases is likely around 6,700 hepatitis A (1). Incidence rates decreased more than 95% from 1995 to 2011, then increased by 140% from 2011 to 2017. In 2017, large person-to-person outbreaks began occurring.
The average incubation period for HAV is 28 days (range: 15–50 days)
HAV can live outside the body for months, depending on the environmental conditions
No. Hepatitis A does not become chronic.
No. IgG antibodies to HAV, which appear early in the course of infection, provide lifelong protection against the disease
Vaccination with the full, two-dose series of hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent HAV infection. Hepatitis A vaccine has been licensed in the United States for use in persons 1 year of age and older. Immune globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A, both pre- and post-exposure. Immune globulin must be administered within 2 weeks after exposure for maximum protection. Given that the virus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, good hand hygiene—including handwashing after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food—is integral to hepatitis A prevention.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that the following persons be vaccinated against hepatitis A:
Yes. Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for pregnant women with additional medical conditions or other indications for hepatitis A vaccine.