Risks of hepatitis A
Learn about the risks of hepatitis A and who is most at risk.
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The risk of getting hepatitis A
You're at risk of getting hepatitis A if you have never been:
- infected with the disease
- vaccinated for the disease
Generally, the risk of becoming infected in Canada is low due to:
- proper sewage disposal
- accessibility to safe drinking water
- proper conditions and practices for keeping clean, such as having clean water to wash your hands:
- when you handle food
- after you use the washroom
- when you provide care to others
You're at higher risk if you visit, live or work in countries where hepatitis A is common. Areas of the world where hepatitis A is more common include:
- South America
- the Middle East
- Central America
- the Indian subcontinent, particularly:
- the rest of Asia (except Japan)
Who is most at risk
Your travel-related risk of hepatitis A will be higher if you visit areas with poor:
- sewage disposal
- food-handling practices
- access to clean drinking water
A map of countries and areas of risk for hepatitis A is available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
The risk of hepatitis A exists even for travellers going for short periods of time to urban areas, staying in luxury hotels and who follow good hygiene and water and food precautions.
You may also be at an increased risk if you:
- have close contact with someone who has hepatitis A, including:
- sexual contact
- you should follow safe sex practices to reduce your risk
- you cannot get hepatitis A from mouth-to-mouth kissing
- providing care to a person who has hepatitis A
- eating food prepared by a person who has hepatitis A
- use illegal drugs
- share needles for injectable drugs
- are a caregiver of a recent adoptee from a country where hepatitis A is common
The risk of complications
Hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage. However, you're at risk for severe complications if you already have liver disease.
Individuals with clotting factor disorders such as hemophilia are also at increased risk for complications if they have previous liver damage.
You will likely become immune to (protected from) hepatitis A for life after you recover.
Death from hepatitis A is rare.
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