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Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
is one of several viruses that specifically target the liver. Infection with
HAV generally leads to a self-limited illness that causes temporary liver inflammation (damage to cells) but does not require specific
treatment. However, in rare cases, the infection may result in a more serious
illness, leading to liver failure (loss of liver
functions) or death. As many as 30% of individuals in the United States have
evidence of past infection with the virus. The virus is found in the feces
of infected persons and is most commonly transmitted through person-to-person
contact and through the ingestion of water or food that has been contaminated
with feces from infected individuals. Infection with HAV is more common in
developing countries where poor hygiene may be more common. The July 13, 2005,
issue of JAMA includes an article about trends in
HAV infection in the United States over the past decade.
Ringold S, Lynm C, Glass RM. Hepatitis A Virus. JAMA. 2005;294(2):270. doi:10.1001/jama.294.2.270
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