Hepatitis Home > Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a condition characterized by inflammation of the liver. Symptoms of this viral infection are not always present, but can include jaundice, dark urine, and stomach pain. Since the virus cannot be killed, treatment consists of relieving symptoms while the body fights the infection. Once a person has been infected with the virus, he or she cannot become infected again.

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is liver inflammation caused by a virus. There are several types of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, and G.
  

What Causes It?

The cause of hepatitis A is an infection with the hepatitis A virus. This is a single-stranded RNA virus from the family Picornaviridae and genus hepatovirus. The virus only infects humans.
 
(Click Hepatitis A Causes for more information.)
 

How Is It Spread?

Hepatitis A is most commonly spread by eating or drinking something (or putting something in your mouth, such as a utensil) that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. This type of transmission is called "fecal-oral" transmission. For this reason, the virus is more easily spread in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed.
 
Most infections result from contact with a household member or sex partner who has hepatitis A. Casual contact, as in the usual office, factory, or school setting, does not spread the virus.
 
(Click Hepatitis A Transmission for more information.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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