While instances of Hepatitis A are rare in the United States, outbreaks happen and can have a major impact. Right now, parts of Southern California, are experiencing an outbreak. In fact, since the beginning of 2017, there have been nearly 500 confirmed cases and 17 deaths. This recent outbreak has many asking what this infection is and what you can do to prevent its spread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is usually transmitted either through person-to-person contact or through consumption of contaminated food or water.1 Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months, and it is usually transmitted when an infected person has not properly washed his or her hands after using the restroom or before preparing and eating food.2
Anyone can get Hepatitis A, but in the United States there are certain groups as higher risk. These include people who travel to or live in countries where Hepatitis A is common, are family members or caregivers or live with someone with Hepatitis A and those who use illegal drugs.2
The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination.2 In addition, there are other preventive measures you can take, including:
- Washing your hands with soap and water after using the restroom, before preparing, serving, or eating food, and changing a diaper. Also wash hands after coming into contact with the blood of someone who has been infected.
- Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, phones, remote controls and railings, with a disinfectant formulated to kill Hepatitis A.
For more information on Hepatitis A infection control and prevention, go to the CDC’s website.