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Hepatitis A

did you know?

Hepatitis A vaccination programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were introduced by State and Territory health authorities in 1999.

Hepatitis A - What is it?

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver causing inflammation. It is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis A - What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually develop 28 days (but range from 15 to 50 days) after catching the virus.

Many people infected with hepatitis A, especially children, show few or no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they can be mild lasting a week or two, or severe lasting up to six months. Symptoms include  fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin). People usually recover within a month of showing symptoms.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following hepatitis A infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A - How is it spread?

Hepatitis A infection only occurs in humans. The hepatitis A virus is hardy and can survive outside the body, living on hands for several hours and even longer in food stored at room temperature.

The hepatitis A virus is passed in the faeces of infected persons. It is mostly spread to others by the ingestion of food or water that has been contaminated by the faeces of infected people. It can also be spread by direct person-to-person contact.

Hepatitis A - Who is at risk?

Anyone who is not vaccinated or has not previously been infected with hepatitis A is at is at risk of infection.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at greater risk of infection and being hospitalised due to hepatitis A infection than non-indigenous children.

Others who are at higher risk of infection include:

  • travellers to areas where hepatitis A is common
  • those with occupational risk of exposure to hepatitis A
  • those with chronic liver conditions

Other people may be at risk of hepatitis A infection. Please speak to your doctor or your child’s doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Hepatitis A – Vaccination

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and provided free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in high risk areas as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Two doses are usually given between 12 and 24 months of age.

Hepatitis A vaccination is also recommended but not funded for the following groups:

  • travellers to areas where hepatitis A is common
  • those whose occupation or lifestyle which may put them at greater risk  of exposure to hepatitis A
  • those with chronic liver conditions

Other individuals may also be at greater risk of getting hepatitis A. Please discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.

Hepatitis A – Treatment

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Treatment aims to manage the symptoms.

For further information about hepatitis A immunisation in your area, contact your State or Territory Health Department or doctor.

 

Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

 

AUS/VAC/0038/15. Date of approval: April 2015.