Communicable Diseases - Hepatitis A

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control

Hepatitis A - Food and Water Borne Diseases

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes an infection of the liver.  The virus is passed in a person's stool. Anyone can get Hepatitis A if they haven’t had it before.  Hepatitis A is usually spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of someone who has the virus (even though it might look clean).

People at greatest risk for getting Hepatitis A include:

  • People who share the same household with someone who is infected with Hepatitis A and sexual partners of someone who is infected with Hepatitis A
  • People who travel to countries where Hepatitis A is common
  • Injecting and non-injecting drug users
  • People who eat raw or inadequately cooked shellfish

The incidence of Hepatitis A in Nova Scotia has remained below one case per 100,000 population since 2000.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pains
  • Yellow skin
  • Yellow eyes

What is the treatment?

There is no known treatment for Hepatitis A. Most people recover from the illness within a few weeks. Some people take a few months to recover.

How can Hepatitis A be prevented?

  • Wash hands with soap and water:
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers
    • Before touching food and before eating
  • Before travelling to a country where Hepatitis A is common. (Consult a travel clinic or call Public Health Services for more information.)
  • Avoid eating raw shellfish

If you have come in contact with someone who has Hepatitis A or are in regular contact with someone who has the disease, immune globulin or vaccine may be recommended. You should talk to your doctor.