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Can Hepatitis A be prevented and are there treatment options?

hepatitis a

Prevention strategies to decrease the risk of hepatitis A infection include the following:1

  • Consistent thorough handwashing with soap and water after using the restroom or following contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids such as blood, urine and feces.
  • Washing of hands before and after diaper changes
  • Thoroughly handwashing before cooking or serving food
  • Avoiding the consumption of contaminated food and water, especially when traveling

When traveling to areas where the risk of hepatitis A infection may be high, avoidance of unclean water and food is important. Strategies to prevent hepatitis A while traveling include the following:2

  • Avoiding undercooked and raw fish and meat
  • Avoiding dairy products
  • Drinking carbonated bottle water
  • Using only carbonated bottle water to brush teeth
  • Avoiding the use of ice in beverages
  • Promptly consuming food that is hot to the touch
  • Refraining from purchasing food from street vendors
  • Boiling water at full boil for at least one minute if bottled water sources are unavailable.

If a person has been exposed to hepatitis A virus, it may be possible to prevent infection with hepatitis A immune globulin within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus.3 Hepatitis A immune globulin can also be administered prior to traveling to countries where rates of hepatitis A virus may be high.4 5

As hepatitis A is a viral infection, there are no specific treatment options for the infection itself. Treatments are targeted towards the management the symptoms. These treatment options may include assuring adequate nutritional status, maintaining comfort, and replacing fluids that may be lost as a result of diarrhea or vomiting. The use of acetaminophen or medications to prevent emesis are not recommended.6 It is, however, recommended that affected persons avoid alcohol, ensure adequate water intake and consume a healthy diet.7

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 Medline Plus Preventing Hepatitis A. Aug 1, 2017

2 Ibid

3 CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public- What is postexposure prophylaxis (PEP)? Apr. 20, 2018

4 CDC Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for Health Professionals - Who should receive protection against hepatitis A before travel? July 27, 2018

5 Medline Plus Preventing Hepatitis A. Aug 1, 2017

6 WHO Hepatitis A Sep. 19, 2018

7 Kahn, A Hepatitis A - Are there complications from hepatitis A? Healthline May 7, 2018

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