• Hepatitis A is not common in Australia.
  • Hepatitis A is most often spread when a person consumes food or drink which has become contaminated with very small particles of infected faeces (poo), usually due to poor sanitation or when hands are not washed thoroughly.
  • Hepatitis A can have serious (but short-lived) symptoms and people generally make a full recovery.

    Like hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. However, unlike hepatitis B and C, it is transmitted by ingesting infected faeces (poo). This is called faecal-oral transmission. Some of the ways this can happen include:

    • if an infected person prepares food and their hands are not washed thoroughly
    • if water is contaminated by sewerage or not properly treated
    • through sexual contact with an infected person, particularly oral-anal sex.

    It is unlikely that you will get hepatitis A in Australia. Small outbreaks of hepatitis A are occasionally seen in Australia but it is not common. Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with less access to clean water and sanitation are at higher risk. Also when travelling overseas there is a much higher risk of getting hepatitis A if you are visiting a developing country with less access to clean water or sanitation.

    There is a vaccine to protect against hepatitis A, which you can read about on the Department of Health website.

    If you get hepatitis A, you may get the following symptoms:

    • fever
    • nausea
    • pain in your belly
    • dark urine
    • yellow skin and eyes (also known as jaundice).

    Not everyone who gets hepatitis A will experience any symptoms, especially children under five years old. Symptoms can last for several weeks, but most people fully recover.

    If you think you could have hepatitis A, you should talk to your doctor.

    Hepatitis A is very contagious, so if you have it, you should stay away from childcare, school, work or other places where you could spread the infection. Your doctor will tell you when you are no longer infectious.

    What is Hepatitis B

    What is Hepatitis C


    References

    Department of Health. (2018, November 6). Hepatitis A. Retrieved from Australian Goverenment Department of Health: beta.health.gov.au/health-topics/hepatitis-a

    Department of Health. (2018, August 1). Hepatitis A immunisation service. Retrieved from Australian Government Department of Health: beta.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-services/hepatitis-a-immunisation-service

    World Health Organization. (2019, July 9). Hepatitis A. Retrieved from World Health Organization: www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a 

    Page updated 13 February 2020