What you need to know about hep A

Although San Diego has seen an outbreak of hepatitis A (hep A), most people in San Diego are at low risk for contracting the disease. Read on to learn more.

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What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A (hep A) is a highly contagious liver infection that is spread when a person ingests food or water that has been contaminated by feces of an infected person.

Who is at risk for contracting hepatitis A?

Most people have a low risk of contracting hepatitis A if they are generally healthy, don't typically come into contact with high-risk people and comply with hand-washing and other routine hygiene practices. Some people do have an elevated risk of contracting hepatitis A, including: 

  • Homeless individuals
  • Illicit drug users
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Food handlers in San Diego County
  • People in close contact with homeless individuals and/or illicit drug users
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Patients treated with clotting-factor concentrates
  • People who work with hepatitis A-infected animals or in a hepatitis A research laboratory
  • People in close personal contact with an international adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common

Also, people with chronic liver disease have an increased risk of complications if they do contract hepatitis A.

What is the best way to prevent the disease?

The best thing you can do to prevent hepatitis A is to get the hepatitis A vaccination.

Aside from receiving the vaccine, the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, and before preparing, serving or eating food. If you have physical contact with others in high-risk categories, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands after each encounter.

Should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?

If you are unsure or have questions about the disease or receiving the vaccine, please contact your primary care physician (PCP).

Where to get a hepatitis A vaccine

Sharp Health Plan covers the hepatitis A vaccine under your preventive care services at no additional charge. Contact your primary care physician to get your hepatitis A vaccine. You can find your PCP’s contact information on your ID card.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about hepatitis A, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency.