Local public health agencies across the Front Range and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are monitoring and responding to an increase in cases of hepatitis A across the state.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A virus is a liver infection that can be prevented with a safe, effective vaccine. It is highly contagious and can cause liver disease lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting months.
How is hepatitis A spread?
Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person puts something in his or her mouth (body part, object, food, or drink) that is contaminated with the feces (poop) of an infected person. It also spreads through close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex, caring for someone who is ill or living with someone who has hepatitis A.
Who is most at risk for getting hepatitis A?
Anyone can get hepatitis A, however, these groups are at the highest risk and are encouraged to get a hepatitis A vaccination:
- People who are transient or experiencing homelessness
- People who use injection and non-injection street drugs
- Men who have sexual contact with men
- People who live with or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A
- People with chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People who are traveling to countries that have higher rates of hepatitis A
- Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Not all people infected with hepatitis A will experience illness. If symptoms develop, they can range from moderate to severe and may include:
- loss of appetite
- muscle aches
- occasional diarrhea
- upper right abdominal pain
- dark urine (like cola or strong tea)
- light colored stools
- jaundice (a yellow color to the skin or whites of the eyes)
Is hepatitis A treatable?
People experiencing the symptoms associated with hepatitis A should see their medical provider. Most people who get hepatitis A recover completely and don’t have lasting liver damage. Treatment includes rest, fluids, and good nutrition. Severe cases may need to be hospitalized.
How can hepatitis A be prevented?
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A.
- Wash hands after using the restroom and before eating or preparing meals for yourself or others
- Use your own towels, toothbrushes, and eating utensils
- Do not have sex with someone who has hepatitis A
- Do not share food, drinks, drugs, or smokes with other people
- If you think you may have hepatitis A, see your medical provider
- If you have hepatitis A, please cooperate with your local public health to help protect others