What causes hepatitis A?

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What is hepatitis A?


Hepatitis A is caused by a virus. When someone has hepatitis A, the virus comes out in their poo.  If this poo gets into drinking water, on to food or on to hands because of lack of good handwashing, it can be picked up by other people. This is the most common way for hepatitis A to spread.

Hepatitis A is very rare in countries like the UK where we have easy access to clean drinking water. Most UK cases of hepatitis A are picked up when someone travels to a high-risk area.

Hepatitis A is very common in places that do not have easy access to clean water. This includes parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America.

In rare cases, hepatitis A can be passed on by close physical contact with someone who has the virus. For example, when having sex. This is more common for men who have sex with men. And for people who share needles to inject drugs.

Sometimes there can be small outbreaks or clusters of hepatitis A cases. This happens when the virus passes on between a group of people. Usually people who share a home. If you are in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A, you might be asked to take action to stop the spread. You can find out more about this here.