Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Hepatitis A

Epidemiology

Hepatitis A is usually spread by the faeco-oral route, often from person to person or via unhygienic water supplies and food. Over the last twenty years the incidence of infection among the population in Scotland has declined. Recently, in Scotland, outbreaks have occurred among injecting drug users. The mainstay of prevention is scrupulous personal hygiene and good sanitation. Passive and active immunisation is available, although the former is now rarely used.

Main clinical features

Infection may be asymptomatic or cause a spectrum of symptoms from nausea through acute clinical hepatitis to liver failure and death. Mild disease is commoner in younger cases. Severe disease is rare.

Incubation period

Usually 2 - 6 weeks.

Surveillance

Voluntary laboratory reports.

Surveillance Tables