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. As of 1/22/2019, 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.