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Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Its symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and yellowing of eyes. The infection usually goes away on its own without treatment and does not cause long-term (chronic) illness. Very rarely, hepatitis A can cause life-threatening liver failure.
Hepatitis A spreads when people eat food or drink water that is contaminated by stool (feces) that has the virus in it. In rare cases, the virus is spread by contact with infected blood or blood products.
You can be infected with HAV only once. After that, you have lifelong immunity to the virus and can't get the disease again. Infection can be prevented by getting immunized with the hepatitis A vaccine.
There is no treatment for hepatitis A other than rest, a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol.
Last Revised: August 30, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
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