Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable and communicable disease of the liver, caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is typically spread from person to person through the fecal-oral route (consuming something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person). The illness can also be spread through contaminated food or water, although this is a less common route of transmission. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated. Additionally, people who have been exposed to hepatitis A virus within the past 14 days and who have not previously completed the hepatitis A vaccine series should receive postexposure prophylaxis.

DPHHS HAN Advisory: Hepatitis A in Montana

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?Hepatits a outbreaks newsletter

Hepatitis A infection is a self-limited disease that will typically resolve on its on, and it does not result in chronic infection.

Common symptoms include:

  • stomach pain
  • nausea/vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • jaundice
  • clay-colored stool
  • dark urine
  • fatigue
  • low appetite

What are the vaccine recommendations for hepatitis A?

The best way to prevent infection from this illness is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Please check out the CDC vaccine and postexposure prophylaxis recommendations below for more information.

Hepatitis A Cases in Montana

Montana is experiencing an increase in hepatitis cases since October 2019, mostly in people who inject drugs and those who were currently or recently incarcerated. There were 17 hepatitis A cases reported from ten counties in Montana in 2019. Thirteen of the 17 cases have been reported since mid-October, 11 of whom have reported injection drug use and 6 of whom were currently or recently incarcerated. Over the previous five years, there has been an average of less than three cases of hepatitis A reported per year in Montana. The map below shows the geographic spread for the 11 cases who used injection drugs and are suspected to be part of the person-to-person cluster of hepatitis A transmission in Montana in 2019.