PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Consider the hepatitis A vaccine
The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus. The hepatitis A vaccine is typically given in two doses — initial vaccination followed by a booster shot six months later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following individuals receive a hepatitis A vaccine:
- All children at age 1, or older children who didn't receive the vaccine at age 1
- Laboratory workers who may come in contact with hepatitis A
- Men who have sex with men
- People planning travel to areas of the world with high rates of hepatitis A
- People who use illicit drugs, including both injected and noninjected drugs
- People who receive clotting-factor concentrates as part of their medical treatment
- People with chronic liver disease
If you're concerned about your risk of hepatitis A, ask your doctor about whether the vaccine is right for you.
Follow safety precautions when traveling
If you're traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, you can help prevent infection by peeling and washing all your fresh fruits and vegetables yourself and by avoiding raw or undercooked meat and fish. Drink bottled water and also use it when brushing your teeth. Ask for your beverages to be served without ice. If bottled water isn't available, boil tap water before drinking it.
Practice good hygiene
Thoroughly wash your hands often to help protect yourself from infection. Wash after using the toilet, before preparing food or eating, and after changing a baby's diaper. Also, don't share towels, eating utensils or toothbrushes.
- 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.