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Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is one type of viral hepatitis. It can lead to acute hepatitis and jaundice
  • It has an incubation period usually 14-28 days
  • Not everyone who is infected will have all of the symptoms. Adults have signs and symptoms of illness more often than children, and the severity of disease increases in older age groups. Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months
  • Most patients have a complete recovery. The liver may be severely affected in a few cases
  • Persons recovered from the infection develop lifelong immunity against the infection. Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease.

Epidemiology in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong is a region with low prevalence of hepatitis A
  • The recent outbreak in 1992 resulted in more than 3600 cases and 4 deaths
  • Annual reported cases of hepatitis A in Hong Kong fell from over 1000 in 1988 to less than a hundred on average in recent years
  • Most of the people in Hong Kong below the age of 40 have never been infected
  • In 2016, an upsurge of hepatitis A infection among men who have sex with men have been noted

Notified cases of hepatitis A

Notified cases of hepatitis A

Transmission of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is transmitted faeco-orally - the virus is transmitted from an infected person's stool to the water or food eaten by another person.

The virus can survive in water for more than a year and in food for a few days, therefore it can be transmitted by:-
  • eating contaminated food (especially shellfish like oysters, clams, cockles and mussels) without proper cooking;
  • drinking contaminated water;
  • close personal contact with infectious person, including sexual contact and not limited to anal-oral contact.

Prevention of Hepatitis A

To be careful with your personal, food and environmental hygiene.
  • Personal hygiene - wash your hands with soap before preparing or eating food and also after going to the toilet.
  • Food hygiene - drink only boiled water. All food, especially bivalve shellfish, such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops, should be carefully cleaned and thoroughly cooked.
  • Environmental hygiene - treat contaminated water and sewage properly; store drinking water properly and keep all kitchen utensils clean.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for HAV.

For information about Hepatitis E, please click here.