Planning your next vacation? Make sure you’re in the know about all the vaccinations you may need. Here we explain the signs, symptoms, treatments and vaccinations for hepatitis A.
What is hepatitis A and how do you catch it?
A virus causes hepatitis A, an infection of the liver, usually, spreads through an infected person’s stool. The illness is more likely to spread to those who inject drugs, same-sex male relationships, and regions of the world with poor sanitation.
Hepatitis A cases seem to be more prevalent in places with poor sanitation and food hygiene. The Far East, the Middle East, Central and South America, and portions of Africa are among them.
You can contract hepatitis A in a number of ways:
- From someone with the infection not washing their hands thoroughly and preparing food which you eat
- Washing hands in contaminated water and preparing food that you eat
- Drinking contaminated water (including ice cubes)
- Eating raw or undercooked seafood sourced from contaminated water
- Being in close contact with someone who has the infection
- Having intercourse with someone with the infection (particularly men)
- Injecting drugs using contaminated equipment
The infection is at its most contagious stage in the two weeks before symptoms appear, up until about a week after the symptoms first show.
Signs and symptoms
Hepatitis A symptoms usually develop approximately four weeks after becoming infected, however some people don’t experience any.
- Feeling tired
- Generally feeling unwell
- Pain in joints and muscles
- High temperature
- Decrease or loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tummy pain in the upper-right area
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
- Dark urine and pale stools
- Itchy skin
Symptoms usually subside within a couple of months. If you have symptoms, it’s always best to speak to your GP.
Hepatitis A Vaccination
The hepatitis A vaccine isn’t routinely given because the risk is so low in the UK, but if you are travelling to a country with a risk of the disease, vaccination is recommended.
How long does hepatitis A vaccination last?
A booster is recommended after 6-12 months to provide protection for 25 years.