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Date of preparation: March 2018

Is hepatitis A a serious infection?  

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is primarily spread when an unprotected (by previous infection or vaccination) individual ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. 1

The disease is closely associated with unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene. 1 It is commonly referred to as travellers’ hepatitis or infectious hepatitis. 1

Globally there are 1.4 million cases of hepatitis every year. Although rarely fatal, hepatitis A can cause debilitating symptoms that can take weeks or even months to recover from. It is more severe in older children and adults and can also rarely lead to acute liver failure, which is often deadly. 1


  1. WHO. Hepatitis A Fact Sheet 328. 2014. Available at: Last accessed June 2015.  

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