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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a reportable disease in Oklahoma. Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool (feces) of persons with hepatitis A. The virus is spread from one person to another by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A (called the “fecal-oral” route). Persons can spread the virus for one to two weeks before symptoms start, and for approximately two weeks after symptoms of dark urine, jaundice, or clay colored stool occur. Persons at highest risk of developing hepatitis A are household contacts of infected persons, persons traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common and injection drug users.

Hepatitis A is an acute infection that can cause fever, malaise, anorexia, nausea, and abdominal discomfort that is followed by jaundice (yellowing of the eyes). The hallmark symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice, clay-colored stools, and tea-colored urine. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks after they start. Infection results in life-long immunity, so once you have had hepatitis A you cannot get it again.

There is no treatment for hepatitis A , however it can be prevented with the hepatitis A vaccine, or for short-term immunity, hepatitis A immune globulin. The vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 12 months and older. It is a 2-dose series that is given 6 months apart from each other. Immune globulin is given to persons who have been exposed to a person with hepatitis A but it only offers protection for a short period of time. Besides the vaccine, the best way of prevention is to always wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food. If you have come in contact with a person that has hepatitis A, please contact your health care provider.

Hepatitis A must be reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) immediately upon diagnosis or positive serologic test for IgM antibodies to hepatitis A. County health department public health nurses perform rapid investigation and follow-up of all reported cases. For each case, they determine risk factors for disease acquisition and spread. They prevent transmission of the virus to identified contacts through administration of immune globulin and education.

Hepatitis A Fact Sheets and Information:

Hepatitis A Fact Sheet (15k.pdf)  
  Hepatitis A Hoja Informativa (43k.pdf)
Food Handler's Fact Sheet (82k.pdf) 
  Food Handler's Hoja Informativa (41k.pdf)

External Hepatitis A Resources:

Hepatitis A (CDC) 
Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement (CDC) 
Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement - Other Languages (CDC)

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