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Hepatitis A
 
• Taking the hepatitis A vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent hepatitis A infection. Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infects the liver. Although hepatitis A infection is not usually fatal, sudden (acute) infections in patients with chronic liver disease can greatly increase their risk of death. Vaccination is the best protection in preventing hepatitis A infection.

• Hepatitis A virus causes acute liver disease in infected persons. Infrequently there may be no signs or symptoms of disease. If symptoms are present they usually occur suddenly and may include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and jaundice. Symptoms usually last less than two months, but occasionally can last as long as six months.

• Hepatitis A infection is commonly spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of an infected person. Intake of contaminated food or drinking water can therefore transmit the virus. Thus, an infected person who does not wash his/her hands after using the bathroom and prepares food can transmit HAV.

• In the past, hepatitis A has occasionally been transmitted to persons with hemophilia through human-derived clotting factor. Today, testing of blood donors for hepatitis A infection and vigilent adherence to good manufacturing practice help to prevent the spread of hepatitis A infection through blood products.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that children two years of age and older and anyone at special risk for hepatitis A infection, including people with hemophilia, should receive the vaccination series (two shots).

• To determine if you could benefit from hepatitis A vaccination, free blood testing is available through participation in CDC's Universal Data Collection program offered by your hemophilia treatment center.

For more information on each fact sheet or to locate a hemophilia treatment center near you, contact NHF's information service, HANDI, at 800-42-HANDI or info@hemophilia.org.