Getting Schooled in Hepatitis A - A Fact Sheet
What is hepatitis A?
- Hepatitis A is a disease caused by a virus that affects the liver. Hepatitis A is found in the stools of persons with hepatitis A1
- Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A 1 :
– Loss of appetite
– Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Note: In children <6 years of age, 70% of infections have no symptoms. If illness does occur, it is typically not accompanied by jaundice. Among older children and adults, infection is typically symptomatic, with jaundice occurring in >70% of patients.2
How is hepatitis A spread?
- Person-to-person transmission through the fecal-oral route is the primary means of hepatitis A virus (HAV) transmission in the United States 2
- Children can serve as the source of infection for others, particularly household and close contacts, because:
– Young children (<6 years of age) are often asymptomatic
– Children can be a reservoir of infection – Young children are not as careful about their hygiene
- Hepatitis A can spread easily—especially among young children who may not be careful with personal hygiene—to playmates, school contacts, and the whole family 1-3
Facts about hepatitis A
- In 2007, a total of 2,979 acute symptomatic cases of hepatitis A were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But since many infections are mild or asymptomatic, they go unreported. The CDC estimated that there were actually 25,000 hepatitis A infections in 2007 4*
- Hepatitis A infection can be serious. Approximately 12% of children under 5 years of age who contract hepatitis A need hospital treatment 5
Preventing hepatitis A
- Routine vaccination is the best way to protect against hepatitis A 2
- The CDC recommends that all children between 1 and 2 years of age get vaccinated against hepatitis A. Two shots are required to provide longlasting protection 2
- Children who are not vaccinated by 2 years of age can be vaccinated at subsequent visits2 • Adults with certain risk factors should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A
What you can do to help
- Educate parents and teachers about the risk of hepatitis A
- Encourage parents to talk to their children's healthcare providers about getting vaccinated against hepatitis A
- Share this information with your colleagues at the National Association of School Nurses Web site, at www.nasn.org
Help make your school A-OK!
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Atkinson W, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, Wolfe S, eds. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2008:197-210.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention of hepatitis A through active or passive immunization: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2006;55(RR-7):1-23.
3. Venczel LV, Desai MM, Vertz PD, et al. The role of child care in a community-wide outbreak of hepatitis A. Pediatrics. 2001;108(5):E78.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surveillance for acute viral hepatitis—United States, 2007. MMWR. 2009;58 (SS-3):1-27.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis Surveillance Report No. 61. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006.
*Includes asymptomatic and underreported cases.
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