Hepatitis A is a preventable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Public exposure notification
On May 12, VCH Public Health issued a public notification for possible Hepatitis A exposure for people who consumed food at McDonald’s (3695 Lougheed Hwy, Vancouver).
About Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A disease can last from a few weeks to several months. It does not lead to chronic infection — in most cases, the liver heals completely with no lasting damage. Older adults and people with other medical conditions may take longer to recover and can have a more serious course of the disease. Find out more about hepatitis A
How it is spread
The hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of an infected person, and can be spread through contaminated food or water, or person to person, including during oral and anal sex.
After the hepatitis A virus enters your body, it can take from 15 to 50 days before you feel sick. The symptoms can be so mild that people may not be aware they’ve been infected. Other people get sick with some of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- A tired feeling (like you have the flu)
- Clay-coloured bowel movements
- A sore feeling in the upper-right stomach area
- Yellowing of the skin and eyeballs
The symptoms can last from one to two weeks, to several months. Most people recover completely and then are immune to re-infection. Death can occur, but is rare. The symptoms can be more severe in people who already have hepatitis C.
Protect yourself against hepatitis A by always washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before preparing meals, and before eating. Other important precautions include:
- Get vaccinated
- Be aware when you travel
- Ensure proper hygiene and take precautions with food and drink
- Avoid peeled fruit and raw vegetables, salads, dairy products with unpasteurized milk, and raw or undercooked meat, fish and shellfish and any food sold by street vendors.
- Swim only in chlorinated pools
- Do not share food, drinks or cigarettes
A vaccine is available which protects people against hepatitis A. It is given as a series of two shots given at least six months apart. The vaccine provides excellent protection against hepatitis A in all age groups except infants less than six months of age.
The vaccine is the best way to protect against hepatitis A infection. When you get immunized, you help protect others as well.
In B.C., the hepatitis A vaccine is provided free to people at high risk of infection, including men who have sex with men.
If given within two weeks of exposure, immunization with one dose of can help prevent infection.