By Hannah Starke, M.D., PGY1, Resident, Baylor College of Medicine, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
World Hepatitis Day represents a day to spread awareness of the different kinds of hepatitis infections. There are five major types of infectious hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D and E. This blog focuses on hepatitis A and its effect on children.
What is Hepatitis A? Hepatitis A is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and can cause lifelong problems. A person contracts hepatitis A by eating, drinking, or touching something (such as door handles or diapers) contaminated with the poop of an infected person. Childcare centers are common places that experience outbreaks.
What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A? Children exposed to hepatitis A may not experience any symptoms, but the infection can cause liver failure and other lifelong health problems. Symptoms may include:
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes that can last for as long as eight weeks
Even if none of these symptoms is present, a child can carry the virus and infect others who touch anything that comes into contact with their feces.
Preventing Hepatitis A Hepatitis A can be prevented with a routine vaccine. Children generally get the first dose at 12 months and the second dose six months after. Drinking clean water, cooking all food thoroughly, and proper and frequent hand washing can help reduce the spread of this infection.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about the hepatitis A vaccine. If you need to identify a doctor for your child, check out the doctors who are part of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Pediatric Primary Care Practice: Children’s Primary Care.