What you should know about hepatitis A
Confirmed case of hepatitis A virus infection
Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed a case of hepatitis A virus infection in an employee of a day care in Dallas. Staff and enrollees who attended the day care between Oct. 1 through Oct. 20 are advised to receive the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin as soon as possible. The name of the facility hasn’t been released to the public.
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver. It can be passed easily from contaminated food, water or close contact with an infected person.
"Hepatitis A can cause outbreaks in day care which infect many children and last for several months,” Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases. “Good hand washing techniques can prevent outbreaks and decrease the spread of the disease, but the best protection for your child is to have them vaccinated.”
Hepatitis A usually goes away on its own within two months. There are no lasting effects in most once the infection passes. Symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin—jaundice
- Darker colored urine
- Light or chalky colored stools
Medical treatments that may help prevent infection include:
- Immune (Gamma) Globulin—temporary protection from hepatitis A. It can last about 3-6 months. It must be given before exposure to the virus or within 2 weeks after exposure.
- Hepatitis A vaccine—highly effective in preventing infection. It provides full protection 4 weeks after the first injection. A second injection provides long-term protection. The vaccine should be considered for:
- All children aged 12-23 months.
- Children aged 24 months or older who are at high risk and have not been previously vaccinated.
- People traveling to areas where hepatitis A is prevalent (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ shows which areas have a high prevalence of hepatitis A).
- People with chronic liver disease.
- People with blood-clotting disorders, such as hemophilia.
- People who desire immunity to hepatitis A.
About the source
Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D. is the medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, which offers care for children and teens with diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses. Our team provides a broad range of services including diagnosis, inpatient and outpatient consultations, immune deficiency evaluations and treatment of recurring infections.