Hepatitis A

Excerpts from a recent review in Am Fam Physician:

Hepatitis A is a common viral illness worldwide. It incidence in the U.S. has diminished as a result of immunization.

How is Hepatitis A transmitted?

Hepatitis A virus is transmitted through fecal-oral contamination, and there are occasional outbreaks through food sources.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A?

Young children are usually asymptomatic, although the likelihood of symptoms tends to increase with age.

What is the prognosis of Hepatitis A?

Most patients recover within 2 months of infection. However, 10-15% of patients will experience a relapse in the first 6 months. Hepatitis A virus does not usually result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease.

What is the treatment for Hepatitis A?

Supportive care is the mainstay of treatment, for example, PO and IV fluids if nausea and vomiting are severe, etc.

How to prevent Hepatitis A?

The CDC recommends routine vaccination of all children 12-23 months of age, as well as certain vulnerable populations.

What to do if you have just been exposed to Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for most cases of postexposure prophylaxis. Immunoglobulin is an acceptable alternative.

References:

Hepatitis A. Matheny SC, Kingery JE. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Dec 1;86(11):1027-34.

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