Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is spread through contaminated water and food, especially shellfish or through person to person contact where personal hygiene is poor.
Hepatitis A occurs worldwide, mostly in countries where sanitation is poor. It is now rare in Western Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Most cases imported into Britain have been contracted in the Indian sub-continent.
The illness of all forms of hepatitis is similar. Symptoms include mild fever, gastro-intestinal upset, nausea/vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Jaundice may also occur. Infection with hepatitis A results in lifelong immunity.