Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a preventable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which can last from a few weeks to several months. It does not lead to chronic infection.


After the hepatitis A virus enters your body, it can take from 15 to 50 days before you feel sick. The symptoms can be so mild that  people may not be aware they have been infected with hepatitis A. Other people get sick with some of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • A tired feeling (like you have the flu)
  • Vomiting
  • Clay-coloured bowel movements
  • A sore feeling in the upper-right stomach area
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyeballs

The symptoms can last from 1 – 2 weeks to several months. Most people recover completely and then are immune to re-infection. Death can occur, but is rare. The symptoms can be more severe in people who already have hepatitis C.


The hepatitis A virus is found in the bowel movements of an infected person. Even if a person does not feel ill, they are still able to spread the hepatitis A virus to others. Hepatitis A can be caught by:

Person-to-person contact :

  • Eating food that has been touched by contaminated hands
  • People who go to the bathroom and then don’t wash their hands properly can pass the virus to others through food preparation or other hand/mouth contacts
  • When a parent or caregiver does not properly wash his or her hands after changing diapers or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
  • Sexual activities where feces may enter the mouth
  • Through the use of contaminated illicit drugs


Contaminated food or water:

  • Eating raw or under-cooked shellfish such as crabs, clams, oysters or mussels that have been exposed to contaminated sewage
  • Eating contaminated fruits or vegetables
  • Drinking water or ice contaminated with the virus
  • People traveling to areas of developing countries where hepatitis A is common and there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene, are more likely to come into contact with contaminated food and water

For more information about hepatitis A, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a