Hepatitis A is a type of liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is spread from one person to another when the feces of someone with HAV gets into another person’s mouth. Even trace amounts of feces that are too hard to see can cause an infection. There are a number of ways that this can happen:

  • Eating food-particularly food that is raw or not thoroughly cooked (shellfish, for example)-that has been handled or prepared by someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Drinking water or ice that is contaminated with feces.
  • Close personal contact with a person who is infected with the virus.
  • Engaging in oral-anal sex (“rimming”) with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Using contaminated water for intravenous drug use,

Hepatitis A is an acute form of hepatitis, meaning that it does not cause long-term (chronic) infection. If you have had hepatitis A once, you cannot be infected with the virus again. However, you can still be infected with other hepatitis viruses (hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, for example).

Last Reviewed: February 26, 2018