Hepatitis A is a short-term viral infection causing inflammation of the liver. Infection can be prevented by receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.
Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Many children and adults who become infected never develop symptoms, but for those who do, symptoms usually develop two to six weeks after being exposed. Symptoms include fever, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and yellow skin (jaundice).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Most people get hepatitis A by person-to-person contact with someone who has the infection or through eating or drinking food or water contaminated by an infected person. Certain adults may be at higher risk for hepatitis A including persons who use drugs and persons experiencing homelessness.
If you think you may have hepatitis A, see your medical provider.
A blood test determines if someone has a hepatitis A infection.
All children aged 12 months to 18 years are recommended to get two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine.
Adults who were not vaccinated as children may be vaccinated at any time.
Hepatitis A Outbreak in South Carolina
Hepatitis A cases began to increase in South Carolina in fall 2018. An outbreak of hepatitis A was declared in Aiken County on Feb. 13, 2019 and DHEC declared a statewide outbreak on May 13, 2019. This outbreak coincides with a national hepatitis A outbreak that began in 2016. Cases have occurred primarily among three risk groups: people who use injection or non-injection drugs, people experiencing homelessness, and men who have sex with men. During the recent months of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina has also seen an increase in hepatitis A cases.
- Outbreak-associated hepatitis A data are as follows:
- Total number of cases = 1,660
- Hospitalization = 875 (53%)
- Deaths = 5* (<1%)
Note: *Hepatitis A deaths are not a reportable condition; death counts may not be accurate
Note: The colors used to display case counts by Region and the groups used for case counts have been changed, as referenced in the key.
Possible Exposures at Restaurants
DHEC investigates all reports of hepatitis A in South Carolina. The risk of hepatitis A being spread by a food handler to people who eat at a restaurant is low.
At the start of the South Carolina hepatitis A outbreak, DHEC — out of an abundance of caution — continued an established practice of giving public notice when a restaurant food handler tested positive. After reviewing updated guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as data and other information related to the outbreak in South Carolina, DHEC no longer gives public notification every time a restaurant worker tests positive for hepatitis A. Based on recognized best practices from the CDC and other states, when an investigation shows the likelihood of patrons being exposed is small and hepatitis A vaccine is not needed, no public notice will be given. Notices will be posted on this website if it is recommended patrons should consider hepatitis A vaccine.