Hepatitis Home > Hepatitis A Virus

The hepatitis A virus is the organism responsible for the disease that bears its name. It belongs to the Picornaviridae family and can live outside the body for a few months, if conditions permit. Following transmission of the virus, a person does not immediately become sick. Symptoms typically appear 15 to 45 days after infection.

What Is the Hepatitis A Virus?

The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is the virus responsible for hepatitis A. A person infected with the virus may develop:
 
  • A sudden onset of fever
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (known as jaundice).
 
These symptoms occur because the virus affects the liver. However, not everyone infected with the hepatitis A virus will develop symptoms.
 
The virus is an RNA virus that belongs to the genus hepatovirus of the Picornaviridae family. It can live outside the body for months, depending on environmental conditions. The virus can be killed by boiling water for one minute, coming into contact with formaldehyde or chlorine, or being exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
  

Other Picornaviruses

Besides the hepatitis A virus, other viruses in the Picornaviridae family that cause human disease include:
 
  • Poliovirus (the virus that causes polio)
  • Coxsackievirus (can cause a number of conditions, including hand, foot, and mouth disease)
  • Echovirus (can cause a number of conditions, including aseptic meningitis)
  • Rhinovirus (a virus that causes the common cold).
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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