Can Hepatitis A cause injury and/or death?
Complications from hepatitis A are extremely uncommon. In rare cases, severe clinical symptoms of hepatitis A can result in neurological, immunological, and hematological impairments and the virus can also affect the kidneys and the pancreas. Additional complications that have been reported include autoimmune hepatitis, relapsing hepatitis, cholestatic hepatitis, subfulminant and fulminant hepatitis. Fulminant hepatitis is the most severe complication resulting in a nearly 80 percent fatality rate.1
While historically, hepatitis A complications have been rare, the 2017 hepatitis A outbreak among persons who use drugs and who are experiencing homelessness has resulted in a higher number of hospitalizations and deaths than what was reported in 2016. Public health officials have speculated that this may be the result of age, pre-existing illnesses, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C co-infections, and high risk activities such as heavy alcohol consumption and drug use that tend to be found among persons within this population.2
Most infected individuals recover fully from hepatitis A within two months, however, approximately 10 to 15 percent of infected individuals can have lingering symptoms for up to six months.3
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Hepatitis A and the Hepatitis A vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 CDC Hepatitis A – Complications Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.
2 CDC Hepatitis A Virus Outbreaks Associated with Drug Use and Homelessness — California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah, 2017 MMWR Nov. 2, 2018; 67(43);1208–1210
3 CDC Hepatitis A – Clinical Features Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book). 13th ed. 2015.