About Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. Many cases have few or no symptoms, especially in the young. The time between infection and symptoms, in those who develop them, is between 2 and 7 weeks. When symptoms occur, they typically last less than 8 weeks and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fever, and abdominal pain. Hepatitis A is primarily spread when an uninfected and unvaccinated person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person.1
Hepatitis A Is a Serious Disease1-4
- Approximately 15,000 cases of hepatitis A were reported from 2016-2018—almost a threefold increase from the 3 years prior
- Around 40% of patients with hepatitis A may require hospitalization
- People with chronic liver disease, such as those infected with hepatitis C virus, are more likely to become seriously ill and die from hepatitis A
The following groups of people are also at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A1:
- International travelers (particularly travel to high-risk countries)
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs (all those who use illegal drugs)
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
- People with HIV
- Persons with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
The CDC can provide more information on hepatitis A.
If a food handler receives a diagnosis of hepatitis A, immune globulin intramuscular (IGIM) should be administered to other food handlers at the same establishment. Find out more information on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations and guidelines.4
Postexposure Prophylaxis for Hepatitis A4
GamaSTAN is indicated for prophylaxis following exposure to hepatitis A. The prophylactic value of GamaSTAN is greatest when given before or soon after exposure to hepatitis A. GamaSTAN is not indicated in persons with clinical manifestations of hepatitis A or in those exposed more than 2 weeks previously.
According to the CDC ACIP, when administered within 2 weeks after exposure to the hepatitis A virus, an IGIM, such as GamaSTAN, is 80% to 90% effective in preventing hepatitis A.
IGIM should be administered to all previously unvaccinated household and sexual contacts of persons with serologically confirmed hepatitis A. Consideration should also be given to providing IGIM to persons with other types of ongoing close personal contact with a person with hepatitis A (eg, regular babysitting).
IGIM should be administered to all previously unvaccinated staff and attendees of child care centers or homes if (1) one or more cases of hepatitis A are recognized in children or employees, or (2) cases are recognized in 2 or more households of center attendees.