Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The liver inflammation is acute and normally heals without treatment within four weeks, and does not become chronic. If the liver is already damaged, infection with HAV can follow a severe course and cause liver failure.
When symptoms occur, they often take the form of fatigue, fever, dark urine or yellow-coloured skin and whites of the eyes.
For diagnosis, liver function and HAV IgM antibodies should be checked.
Prevention and treatment
You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A. A specific treatment is generally not necessary; supportive measures usually suffice.
Transmission of HAV usually occurs via contaminated water or food. The virus enters water or food via human excretement as a result of poor hygiene.
Direct transmission between humans is also possible. People living or travelling in developing countries and in areas with widespread hepatitis A have an increased risk of catching hepatitis A, as do people with close contact with an infected person, men who have sex with other men and certain professions (e.g. construction workers, laboratory staff).