What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious and sometimes serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Once called infectious hepatitis, today it is more commonly known as hepatitis A. Approximately one-third of Americans have been exposed to hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A does not result in chronic infection, but complete recovery from hepatitis A can be slow. In adult patients with hepatitis A, the illness may last for at least one month, with recovery taking up to six months. Some 20 percent of patients may have a relapse of the disease and may be impaired for as long as 15 months. Also, an estimated 15 percent of patients require hospitalization for hepatitis A.