Hepatitis (hep a TIE tis) is an infection of the liver. It is sometimes called "yellow jaundice" because some forms of hepatitis cause the skin to turn yellow.
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus found in feces (bowel movements), contaminated water and food that has been handled by infected persons. People are infected by passing the virus from contaminated hands to their mouths or by eating foods that contain the virus. A person can spread the disease to others anytime from 1 to 2 weeks before symptoms appear, through one week after symptoms occur.
The five most important steps to keep the disease from spreading are: 1) good hand washing, 2) plenty of rest, 3) good nutrition, 4) good housekeeping and 5) medical care.
To help stop the spread of this disease, all family members must wash their hands often and well. (Refer to the Helping Hand, Hand Hygiene, HH-IV-80). Hands should be washed vigorously, for 15 seconds using soap and warm water, and rinsed very well. Good hand washing is most important before meals, after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper and before preparing or serving food.
To prevent the spread of infection, these steps must be taken in the home:
There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A. This vaccine is usually started when the child is one year old, but can be given to older children and adults.
Call your child's doctor if:
If your child is toilet-trained and does not have diarrhea, he or she may return to school or child care when he feels better. A child who is not toilet-trained should stay home for at least 7 days before returning to school or child care. However, your child's doctor should okay the child's return to school or child care.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse, or call ____________________.
Hepatitis A (PDF)
HH-I-168 10/76, Revised 10/11 Copyright 1976-2011, Nationwide Children's Hospital