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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.

In 2012, there were an estimated 3,050 acute Hepatitis A infections in the United States. (However, the official number of reported Hepatitis A cases is much lower since many people who are infected never have symptoms and are never reported to public health officials.)

Some people with Hepatitis A do not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include the following:

Fever

Fatigue

Loss of appetite

Nausea

Vomiting

Abdominal pain

Dark urine

Clay-colored bowel movements

Joint pain

Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)

If symptoms occur, they usually appear anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.

lmost all people who get Hepatitis A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death, although this is rare and occurs more commonly in persons 50 years of age or older and persons with other liver diseases, such as Hepatitis B or C.

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