Hepatitis A virus is spread by the fecal/oral route. In other words, a person is infected with HAV by ingesting anything that is contaminated by HAV-infected feces. Transmission can occur because of inadequate hand washing by food handlers, poor food or water sanitization, or sexual contact that includes oral/anal contact.
Fifteen to forty five days.
Many infected people have no symptoms (especially young children). Adults may become quite ill suddenly experiencing jaundice, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine/light stools, and fever.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. The infection will usually clear up in a few weeks to months and serious long term health problems are rare. Once recovered, an individual is then immune to HAV and will never get the infection again.
Persons traveling to developing nations where food and water sanitation are in question are encouraged to get the hepatitis A vaccine. Basic prevention includes washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and using household bleach to clean surfaces contaminated with feces such as changing tables. Immune globulin (IG) can provide a temporary immunity to the virus for two to three months if given prior to exposure to HAV or within two weeks after contact.
Although HAV is the least severe type of hepatitis, in rare instances it can result in liver failure.
Hepatitis A is endemic in developing countries.