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Viral Hepatitis

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How is hepatitis A spread?

for Veterans and the Public

How is hepatitis A spread?

The hepatitis A virus is usually spread by putting something in your mouth that is contaminated with the virus. The virus is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A and is spread when someone's stool accidentally contaminates food or water. This can happen when an infected person does not adequately wash his or her hands after using the bathroom then touches other things such as food. When other people eat that food, they can get infected with hepatitis A. Usually the transmission is between people in very close personal contact.

Foods themselves can be contaminated with hepatitis A virus, such as raw oysters harvested from sewage-contaminated water. When people eat food contaminated with hepatitis A virus, they can get infected with the virus.

Hepatitis A is usually spread through

  • household contact with an infected person
  • sexual contact with an infected person
  • eating or drinking contaminated food or water
  • sharing eating utensils that are contaminated
  • touching contaminated surfaces and then placing your hands near or in the mouth