Hepatitis A (commonly misspelled as heptitis, hepatitus, hepitits, or hepatits) is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool or feces of persons with hepatitis A infection, and is transmitted from person to person when an object, food, or water contaminated with the stool of the person with hepatitis A is ingested or put in the mouth of someone else. Blood and other bodily secretions may also be infectious. Hepatitis A is one of six hepatitis viruses. The other types are B, C, D, E, and G. All cause the liver to become inflamed, but the strains differ in severity and in the way they spread. Most people who become infected with hepatitis A recover completely with no permanent liver damage, and those with mild cases of hepatitis A infection don't even require treatment. The hepatitis A virus does not remain in the body after the infection has resolved and those who have had hepatitis A cannot get it again. And, unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A doesn't develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Contact your health care provider if you have one or more risk factors or symptoms of hepatitis A, have not yet been vaccinated against the virus, or are not sure if you have been vaccinated.
There are approximately 100,000 total hepatitis A infections in the U.S. every year.
People may become infected with hepatitis A even if they have no known risk factors for the virus.
The known risks of acquiring hepatitis A are greatest for those who:
Live in a nursing home or rehabilitation center
Have a family member who has or recently had hepatitis A
Use intravenous or non-intravenous drugs
Recently traveled to or immigrated from Asia, or South or Central America
Are sexually active gay or bisexual men
Lived in areas with increased rates of hepatitis A during the baseline period from 1987-1997
Persons at risk for hepatitis A infection might also be at risk for other types of hepatitis infection or HIV. You can ask your health care provider to be tested at any time.
To prevent acquiring hepatitis A infection:
Get vaccinated. Hepatitis A vaccine is the best protection.
Get short-term protection against hepatitis A with immune globulin. It can be given before and within 2 weeks after coming in contact with the virus.
Always wash you hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing and eating food.
Common misspellings of hepatitis are, heptitis, hepatitus, hepititis, heaptitis, hepatits, hepititus, hepatatis, hepitits or hepititas.