Hepatitis A is not common in Ireland. It is usually found in developing countries with poor sanitation. But with more Irish people travelling abroad, Hepatitis A has also increased in Ireland.
- The faecal-oral route. This occurs when the faeces (poo) of someone infected with Hepatitis A gets into the mouth of an uninfected person. This can happen because of poor hygiene or poor sanitation. Hepatitis A is often associated with contaminated food (often shellfish) or water. Infected food handlers can transmit the virus by not washing their hands after going to the toilet.
- Sexually: Hepatitis A can also be transmitted sexually (usually sex that involves mouth to anus contact – rimming).
People are usually most infectious a week or two before they have any symptoms and maybe infectious up to a week after they develop symptoms.
After a hepatitis A infection, people develop a natural immunity to the virus and cannot become infected again.
What happens if you contract Hepatitis A?
Usually Hepatitis A is a relatively mild illness that lasts 1-2 weeks but it can be more severe and last longer depending on the person.
There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A. Nutrition and hydration are important.
- Vaccine – there is a safe and effective vaccine available for Hepatitis A. It is available either on its own or in conjunction with Hepatitis B.
- Good hygiene.
- Good sanitation.