Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A Disease Icon Hepatitis A

Question Mark Disease Icon What is it?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is rare in the UK and other developed countries, with most of the reported cases in these places occurring in travellers who have recently been to areas where the disease is more common. Hepatitis A can occur worldwide, but is most common in lower-income countries and regions with poor sanitation and hygiene. These include India, sub-Saharan and North Africa, parts of the Far East, South and Central America and the Middle East.1,2

Who is at risk from Hepatitis A icon Who is at risk?

Certain travellers are at a higher risk of hepatitis A infection, including:2

  • Frequent travellers or those staying for longer periods in areas with poor sanitation and food hygiene
  • People visiting friends and relatives
  • People with existing medical conditions
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who inject drugs
  • People visiting areas where there has been an outbreak of hepatitis A and where there is limited access to safe water and medicine
  • People exposed to the virus through their work

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis A? What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of hepatitis A usually appear within 4 weeks following infection, although not everyone will experience them. Symptoms may include:3

  • A raised temperature
  • Feeling generally unwell and tired
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine and pale grey or yellow faeces
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Diarrhoea or constipation

These may not be a full list of signs and symptoms, please always speak to your health professional if you have any of the above symptoms and they can help find out the cause. Hepatitis A usually clears up on its own within 3 to 6 months.3 In rare cases, hepatitis A infection may cause illness such as liver failure.

How Hepatitis A spreads Icon How is it spread?

Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water, as well as through contact with infected people where personal hygiene is poor.1

How can Hepatitis A be prevented Icon How can it be prevented?

You can reduce the risk of catching hepatitis A by practising good hygiene, such as washing your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. If you are visiting areas where the drinking water may not be safe, or where hygiene and sanitation are poor, vaccination may also be recommended depending on the countries you are visiting and the activities you are planning.1,2

If you are travelling in a high-risk area, you should also avoid foods such as shellfish, salads, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and raw or undercooked meats.2

How can Hepatitis A be treated Icon How can it be treated?

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, and recovery from the illness can take weeks to months.1,2 It is important to take the recommended steps to reduce your risk of infection.

Further Information Icon Where can I get further information?

If you have any questions or concerns about exposure to Hepatitis A, please speak to your doctor or a travel health practitioner for more information.

Make sure you contact your GP or travel health practitioner in plenty of time before you travel to discuss the ways you can help to keep yourself healthy whilst away. You should try and contact them at least 4–6 weeks before your trip.

After your trip, you should contact your GP if you develop a fever or notice any other unusual symptoms.

The information provided is a summary that was up to date when this article was published; however, recommendations may be updated from time to time. Please always consult with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist well in advance of travelling.


1. Fit For Travel. Hepatitis A. Available at: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/hepatitis-a. Accessed February 2024. 2. Travel Health Pro. Hepatitis A. Available at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/21/hepatitis-a. Accessed February 2024. 3. NHS. Overview. Hepatitis A. October 2022. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-a/. [Last accessed March 2024].

MAT-XU-2203030(v2.0) | February 2024

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