CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis virus is usually spread when a person ingests tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter. The hepatitis A virus infects the liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can impair liver function and cause other signs and symptoms of hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted several ways, such as:
- When someone with the virus handles the food you eat without first carefully washing his or her hands after using the toilet
- Drinking contaminated water
- Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
- Being in close contact with a person who's infected — even if that person has no signs or symptoms
- Having sex with someone who has the virus
- Sjogren MH, et al. Hepatitis A. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed July 25, 2011.
- Hepatitis A FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm. Accessed July 25, 2011.
- What I need to know about hepatitis A. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepa_ez/index.aspx. Accessed July 25, 2011.
- Hepatitis nutrition therapy. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association. http://nutritioncaremanual.org/index.cfm. Accessed Aug. 3, 2011.
- Milk thistle. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/milkthistle/ataglance.htm. Accessed July 25, 2011.