Hepatitis A

Background

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The disease is generally mild, but severity tends to increase with age. In developed countries person to person is the most common method of transmission, while in countries with poor sanitation, food contaminated with faeces and similarly contaminated water are the common causes of infection.

Foodborne outbreaks are known to occur and have been associated with contamination of ready to eat foods by infected food handlers. Outbreaks have also been linked to food contaminated further upstream in the food production process including:

  • shellfish
  • fresh and frozen berries

Hepatitis A can also be spread during sexual intercourse and there have been a number of recent outbreaks among men who have sex with men. The infection can also be transmitted through injecting drugs.

Information about the symptoms and managing Hepatitis A infection is available on the NHS inform website.

Guidance

For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.

Data and surveillance