Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Quick Reference Guide for Healthcare Professionals

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

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Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Quick Reference Guide for Healthcare Professionals (PDF:69KB/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 2 months; occasionally, prolonged or relapsing illness can last up to 6 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% of HAV-infected persons will have prolonged or relapsing symptoms over a 6-month period.

Fecal-oral transmission by:

  • person-to-person contact or
  • ingestion of contaminated food or water
Communicability 14 days before to 7 days after onset of symptoms
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
  • HAV vaccine is the best protection.
  • Immune globulin (IG) provides short-term protection against HAV. IG is appropriate for both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis; post-exposure prophylaxis can be given within 14 days after exposure to HAV.
  • 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 Tuesday, 16-Nov-2010 12:21:32 CST