What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A, otherwise known as hep A, is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It causes inflammation and affects your liver’s ability to function. Hepatitis A can range in severity, from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Vaccines are available at the Mesa County Public Health Immunization Clinic. Because of the hepatitis A outbreak Colorado is experiencing, there are also community vaccination clinics being held in Mesa County.
Hepatitis A vaccination clinics
Free hepatitis A vaccine is available for those who are at a high risk of infection. These are people experiencing homelessness, people who inject drugs, and people who have been incarcerated. Contact the Mesa County Public Health Clinic at 970-248-6900, or stop by our clinic, located at 510 29 1/2 Road.
Some people, particularly young children usually do not show symptoms. Symptoms usually occur suddenly. They can include the following:
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Yellow skin and/or eyes (jaundice)
If you develop symptoms or believe you have been in close personal contact with a person who has hepatitis A, seek care from your primary care provider or from an emergency department as soon as possible.
How do you get it?
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of an infected person and is easily spread from one person to another.
- By eating food contaminated by a person not washing their hands after using the bathroom. Both uncooked and cooked foods may be contaminated.
- From sharing meals or housing, through sexual contact, or by sharing injection drug equipment with a person who has hepatitis A.
- By drinking contaminated water (this is extremely rare in the United States).
What is the difference between hepatitis A, B, and C?
- Hepatitis A is spread by eating food or water contaminated with invisible amounts of feces. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact, or by sharing needles. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis C is spread through sexual contact, or by sharing needles. There is no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C.
Having one type of viral hepatitis in the past does not protect a person from getting other types.
For more information or questions, call Mesa County Public Health at 970-248-6900.
Can hepatitis A be serious?
Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. It’s uncommon but hepatitis A can cause death. People who are older or have health conditions, including hepatitis C, are at higher risk of dying from hepatitis A.
Facts about hepatitis A
Check out this fact sheet for more information.