Here’s a foodborne illness that may not be on your radar. Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Fortunately, infection with the Hepatitis A virus is not a lifelong infection like other forms of hepatitis, and there is a vaccine to prevent it. Also, new cases are less than 3,000 a year in the United States. Hepatitis A can spread when a person ingests food or water contaminated by human waste that contains the virus. Food can become contaminated at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling and even after cooking. The Hepatitis A virus is even hardy enough to survive in frozen foods. Many people get Hepatitis A while traveling to other countries. Regardless of where travelers eat or stay – even at high-end resorts – it is still possible to get infected with the hepatitis A virus. Before traveling, it is important to check to see what vaccines are recommend, including the Hepatitis A vaccine.
- Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus.
- The Hepatitis A virus is highly contagious.
- People can spread Hepatitis A even if they do not look or feel sick. Many children and some adults have no symptoms.
- There is a highly effective vaccine for Hepatitis A.
- Travelers to regions where Hepatitis A is common should get vaccinated before their trip.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food.
- There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A: two doses are needed.
- Get vaccinated if you are traveling to a country where the disease is common.
- Vaccination is recommended for all children at age 1 year.