WHO estimates, globally more than 10 Cr people get infected with Hepatitis A every year (1).  

Understanding What Causes Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection that is caused by the Hepatitis A virus (2). Its severity can range from a mild to severe illness which can last from a few weeks to months (3).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally more than 10 crore people get infected with Hepatitis A every year (1). While this liver infection is generally considered mild and common among children, it can be serious in some cases (3). 

Among older children and adults, infection usually causes more severe symptoms, jaundice being one of them occurring in more than 70% of cases (4). 

Hepatitis A infections can be severe (5). If left unchecked, in some cases, it can lead to severe complications like acute liver failure and death in rare cases. Outbreaks occur worldwide, especially in areas with poor sanitation (6). Children living in a more hygienic environment, may not get exposed to the hepatitis A virus and thus may not develop immunity against Hepatitis A. These children may be at risk of infection during adolescence and adulthood which can be severe (6).

How Does it Spread?

Hepatitis A spreads through ingestion of contaminated water and food with the hepatitis A virus. It is primarily transmitted when someone ingests contaminated water, milk, or even foods that have not been prepared, stored, or served in a hygienic manner.

Signs And Symptoms of Hepatitis A

Not everyone who is infected has symptoms. Symptoms (if developed) usually appear within 2 to 6 weeks after infection. They can include:

  • Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Grey-coloured stools     

  • Malaise     

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain

  • Joint pain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Jaundice

Symptoms of Hepatitis A can last for as long as 6 months (9)

Hepatitis A – Can it be Prevented?

Yes, Hepatitis A infection can be prevented. The easiest ways to protect yourself are to:

1. Drink clean water and cook food well. Avoid raw meat and shellfish. Wash fruits and vegetables in clean water.

2. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for example after using the toilet, changing a baby’s nappy, before preparing food and eating, etc. 

3. Ensure proper hygiene.

4. Vaccination helps to protect your child against Hepatitis A.

Treatment For Hepatitis A?

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A and hence it is wise to prevent the disease by taking preventive measures. Vaccination is one of the reliable ways to prevent Hepatitis A.

When Hepatitis A Vaccination Can be Given?

Vaccination against Hepatitis A can be given to a child from the age of one year onwards. This is why global and national health authorities like WHO and the Indian Academy of Paediatrics recommend Hepatitis A vaccination to all eligible children (1,8).

Consult your Paediatrician for more information.


  1. https://www.who.int/immunization/position_papers/PP_hep_A_july2012_summary.pdf , Accessed on 24th July 2021

  2. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Hepatitis A/afaq.html, Accessed on 24th July 2021

  3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a

  4. Castaneda D, Gonzalez AJ, Alomari M, Tandon K, Zervos XB. From hepatitis A to E: A critical review of viral hepatitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2021;27(16):1691-1715

  5. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/hepa.html, Accessed on 24th July 2021

  6. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a, Accessed on 24th July 2021

  7. https://www.iamat.org /country/india/risk/hepatitis-a, Accessed on 24th July 2021

  8. 124587-IAP-GUIDE-BOOK-ON-IMMUNIZATION-18-19.pdf (iapindia.org), Accessed on 29th July 2021

Disclaimer: Issued in public interest by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited. Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400 030, India. Information appearing in this material is for general awareness only. Nothing contained in this material constitutes medical advice. Please consult your physician for medical queries, if any, or any question or concern you may have regarding your condition. Please consult your Paediatrician for the complete list of Vaccine-preventable diseases and the complete vaccination schedule for each disease. Please report adverse events with any GSK product to the company at india.pharmacovigilance@gsk.com. Practo is not responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.

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