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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of your liver.

It is usually spread through contact with infected faeces (poos), either from an infected person or through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis A is not very common in New Zealand, but some people are at higher risk than others. These include:

Preventing hepatitis A

The best way to avoid hepatitis A is to be vaccinated, keep your hands clean and pay attention to food safety.

Symptoms of hepatitis A

Some people with hepatitis A may have few or no symptoms, while others may be unwell with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, nausea (feeling sick), tummy pain, loss of appetite and tiredness. After this their skin and the whites of their eyes may become yellow (also called jaundice). The jaundice usually clears after one to three weeks.

People with hepatitis A are most infectious (likely to pass the virus on) in the two weeks before they get any symptoms until one week after they have jaundice.

Diagnosing hepatitis A

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and travel history and check your immunisation status. They can look for physical signs of hepatitis A, such as yellowing of your skin and eyes (jaundice). They may suggest you have a blood test, such as liver function tests.

Treating hepatitis A

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A and most people make a complete recovery.

To reduce the risk of other people becoming infected you should stay home and not prepare food for other people for seven days after jaundice has started.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

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Page reference: 55302

Review key: HIHEP-49691