Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Quick Reference Guide for Health Care Professionals

On this page:
Report to MDH
Signs and Symptoms
Long-Term Effects
Transmission
Communicability
Risk Groups
Prevention
Vaccine Recommendations
Medical Management
Postexposure Management
Trends and Statistics

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Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Quick Reference Guide for Health Care Professionals (PDF:35KB/1 page)

Report to Minnesota Department of Health Acute HAV infection (positive anti-HAV IgM)
Etiology HAV is an RNA virus in the picornavirus group.
Signs and Symptoms
  • May be asymptomatic
  • Older persons are more likely to have symptoms. Symptoms usually occur abruptly and may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, or jaundice.
  • Symptoms generally last less than two months; occasionally, prolonged or relapsing illness can last up to six months.
  • Average incubation period is 28 days (range: 15-50 days)
Long-Term Effects
  • Chronic infection does not occur.
  • HAV infection confers life-long immunity.
  • 15 percent of HAV-infected persons will have prolonged or relapsing symptoms over a six-month period.
Transmission

Fecal-oral transmission by:

  • person-to-person contact or
  • ingestion of contaminated food or water
Communicability Four days before to seven days after onset of jaundice or 14 days after onset of symptoms in the absence of jaundice
Risk Groups
  • Household contacts of infected persons
  • Sexual contacts of infected persons
  • Persons, especially children, living in regions of the United States with high rates of HAV infection
  • Travelers to regions where HAV is common, including Central and South America, Africa, and Asia
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Injection and non-injection drug users
Prevention
  • HAV vaccine is the best protection.
  • For healthy persons 12 months - 40 years of age, hepatitis A vaccine may be given to stop the onset of symptoms in persons exposed within the previous two weeks. For children under 12 months of age and persons over 40 years of age, Immune Globulin (IG) may be given to stop the onset of symptoms in persons exposed within the previous two weeks.
  • Hand washing with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
Vaccine Recommendations*

HAV vaccine is recommended for:

  • travelers to areas with increased rates of HAV infection
  • men who have sex with men
  • injection and non-injection drug users
  • persons with chronic liver disease
  • persons with clotting-factor disorders (e.g., hemophilia)
  • children living in regions of the U.S. with high rates of HAV infection
  • anyone who wants to be protected from contracting HAV

*HAV vaccine is licensed only for persons 1 year of age or older

Medical Management Supportive care
Postexposure Management

For healthy persons 12 months – 40 years of age hepatitis A vaccine may be given to stop the onset of symptoms in persons exposed within the previous two weeks.

For children under 12 months of age and persons over 40 years of age Immune Globulin (IG) may be given to stop the onset of symptoms in persons exposed within the previous two weeks.
Trends and Statistics
  • Occurs in epidemics nationally and locally
  • During epidemic years, the number of HAV cases reported in the U.S. has reached 35,000
  • Since the HAV vaccine was licensed in 1995, vaccine use has increased in the U.S. and morbidity has reached historic lows. One-third of persons in the U.S. are immune to HAV (i.e., have evidence of past infection). Approximately one-third of reported cases occur among children less than 15 years of age.
  • HAV incidence rates

Updated Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 03:14PM