Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A

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What is the concern?

Public health officials and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are continuing to see an elevated number of hepatitis A cases in Southeast Michigan.

Resources for the general public, healthcare and behavioral healthcare providers, and food service is located at the bottom of this page.

Who should receive vaccination against hepatitis A?

While it is recommended that everyone who is concerned about hepatitis A exposure be immunized, certain groups are being prioritized to receive the vaccine.  Those groups include:

  • Those with a recent exposure to a confirmed case of hepatitis A
  • Those at high risk of exposure to hepatitis A, including men who have sex with men, those with a history of substance abuse, those currently homeless or in transient living, correctional facility inmates, and those with underlying liver disease
  • Food service workers
  • Healthcare workers

More information is available in the MDHHS Vaccination Prioritizing FAQ Sheet.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus.

What are the symptoms?

Some people have no symptoms.  Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children.  Symptoms may include sudden onset of abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, tiredness, loss of appetite and/or headache followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

How is hepatitis A spread?

Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted by feces (either by person to person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water).

How long after exposure do symptoms begin?

Symptoms may appear from 14-50 days after exposure.  The average time is about one month.

How long is a person contagious with hepatitis A?

Most people are contagious for two to three weeks before symptoms begin, and up to one week after the symptoms of jaundice first appear. This type of hepatitis clears completely from a sick person after recovery.

What are the complications of hepatitis A infection?

Most people recover completely.  Death or serious illness is very rare, but may occur if a person is already ill or elderly.

Is there a treatment for hepatitis A?

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A infection.  However, it is important to have a doctor follow the course of the infection.  The doctor can recommend measures such as rest, change in diet and guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others.

How can Hepatitis A be prevented?

Good sanitation and good hygiene are key to preventing Hepatitis A.  Specifically, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water:

  • before eating or preparing food
  • after using the bathroom
  • after diapering/toileting a small child

There is a vaccine that will prevent Hepatitis A infection.  It is recommended for all children, travelers to some foreign countries, and people who are at risk of complications from Hepatitis A infection. The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose series, given 6 months apart.

What can be done after a person is possibly exposed to hepatitis A?

If you have been exposed to hepatitis A, it is recommended that you receive the hepatitis A vaccine within 14 days of exposure to prevent illness.

The final, second dose of vaccine is needed 6 months after the first dose to complete the series and better protect you from future exposure to hepatitis A.

Always Practice Healthy Habits:

  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, or turn away when coughing.
  • Immediately throw away used tissues, followed by careful hand washing.
  • Avoid sharing objects if they have been in the mouth (pacifiers, toys, silverware, etc.); wash objects in hot, soapy water between use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing or touching common surfaces like door knobs, keyboards and telephones.  You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.

HAND WASHING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Use soap and running water
  • Rub your hands vigorously for 20 seconds
  • Wash all surfaces, including:
    • Backs of hands
    • Wrists
    • Between fingers
    • Under fingernails
  • Rinse well
  • Dry hands with a paper towel
  • Turn off the water using a paper towel instead of bare hands


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General Public,

​Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Resource Pages

Healthcare & Behavioral Healthcare Providers,

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Resource Pages: