Hepatitis Home > Hepatitis A

Incubation Period

Following hepatitis A transmission, a person does not immediately become sick. Once the virus enters the body, it travels to the liver, where it begins to multiply.
 
After 15 to 45 days, symptoms can begin. This period between transmission of the virus and the start of symptoms is called the "hepatitis A incubation period."
 
(Click Hepatitis A Incubation Period for more information.)
 

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

Many people with hepatitis A will not have any symptoms. This is especially true in children. If people do have symptoms, they may start abruptly and include the following:
 
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (also known as jaundice)
  • Feeling very tired
  • Stomach pain (abdominal pain)
  • Not feeling very hungry
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Low-grade fever.
     
In a number of people, these symptoms may be confused with symptoms of stomach flu, especially in the early stages.
 
Chronic or long-term problems are rare with hepatitis A, but 10 percent of infected people will have prolonged symptoms over a six- to nine-month period. These symptoms may come and go during this time.
 
(Click Hepatitis A Symptoms for information on the possible impact of this condition.)
 

Contagious Period

A person is contagious during the incubation period and remains so for about a week after developing jaundice. A person appears to be most contagious during the middle of the incubation period, well before symptoms of hepatitis A appear.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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