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Hepatitis A and the Vaccine to Prevent It

By Marianne Valentiner, Health Educator Bladen County Health Department

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks, to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Practicing good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food – plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

If symptoms develop, they can appear abruptly and can include:

*Fever

*Fatigue

*Loss of appetite

*Nausea

*Vomiting

*Abdominal pain

*Dark urine

*Clay-colored stools

*Joint pain

*Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Most children younger than age 6 do not have symptoms when they have hepatitis A. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice, although older children and adults with Hepatitis A have jaundice.

How soon after exposure to hepatitis A will symptoms appear? If symptoms occur, they usually start appearing four weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as two weeks and as late as seven weeks after.

Call Bladen County Health Department at: 910-862-6900 to schedule an appointment!

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