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Hepatitis A is a potentially serious disease caused by a virus which attacks theliver.

Each year, between 1,000 and 3,000 Canadians become infected with the Hepatitis A virus. It is not a long-lasting or chronic infection, and will eventually run its course. Symptoms may be uncomfortable and may disrupt daily activities. Once you’ve had the virus, you develop a lifelong immunity and cannot transmit the virus to others. Hepatitis A is diagnosed with a blood test.

Hepatitis A may be spread in several ways but the most common is by consuming food or drinking water contaminated with animal or human waste that contains the virus.

Common causes of transmission include:

  • if your food comes into contact with contaminated water or infected food service worker eating raw or undercooked shellfish from polluted waters;
  • unpeeled fruit washed in contaminated water failure to wash hands after using the bathroom
There is no treatment for Hepatitis A. It will naturally run its course.

Reduction of pace of daily activities and a balanced diet with plenty of fluids is helpful. Alcohol and herbal supplements should be avoided. If itchy skin is experienced, it can be controlled with non-prescription anti-itch medicine.

Being vaccinated against Hepatitis A is the best way to prevent getting the disease.

The vaccine provides long-term protection that generally lasts for years. The vaccine spurs your immune system to produce antibodies that help protect against the Hepatitis A virus.