Hepatitis A

What is the illness?


Infectious disease of the liver caused by the HAV virus. Its onset is acute and it never becomes chronic. Today the infection occurs mainly during travel in high risk countries. Hepatitis A is therefore often called "travel related hepatitis".


In Switzerland, about 250-300 new cases per year.

How is it contracted and recognised?


Through untreated water contaminated with faeces, contaminated food, direct contact with infected individuals.


Often asymptomatic in children, symptomatic in 50-70% of adults with tiredness, headache, fever, nausea, abdominal pains, diarrhoea and in many cases jaundice (yellow coloration of eyes and skin), with clear faeces and dark urine.


The characterisation of the class of antibodies directed against the hepatitis A virus makes it possible to differentiate between early infection and immunity.

How is it treated?


The illness heals spontaneously after several weeks.
Anti-viral treatment is not indicated.


Vaccination extremely safe and effective (advised for all travellers).
Hygienic measures: avoid contact with infected faeces, i.e. in countries at risk drink only bottled water, do not consume ice cubes and ice creams, and eat only fruit peeled personally; also take care with salad and seafood.