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Hepatitis A

Campus Statement

There is not an outbreak of Hepatitis A at Arkansas State University, and there is no documented foodborne case. We have been alerted by our food service provider, Sodexo, that a temporary employee was reported to have a potential case of Hepatitis A.

We have conferred with Sodexo to review its food handling procedures and was reassured by Sodexo that all appropriate food-safety procedures were in place to limit exposure, and to remove any potential future exposure. These procedures include continuous wearing of gloves, the appropriate hand-washing technique, and regular sanitization of the food-preparation area by the Sodexo employees as a part of their regular procedures. Per policy, the employee immediately left the premises and is no longer working on campus.

Hep A Vaccination Clinic Information

In Jonesboro

Those concerned are encouraged to get a free vaccination at the Craighead County Health Department today, or Friday, Oct. 26, during its regular hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Health Department is located at 611 E. Washington Street in Jonesboro.

On Campus

We are hosting the Craighead County Health Department on Monday, Oct. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 30, for students, faculty or staff who wish to receive the free Hep A vaccination. The clinic will be conducted from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Reng Student Center on the third floor in the River Rooms located behind the Multicultural Center.

Out of Town

We are working with the Arkansas Department of Health so that students can visit their home county clinics over the weekend to receive the vaccination if they wish. Students who are unable to attend the clinics in Jonesboro because they are traveling for the weekend may be able to visit a Local Health Unit in another county. Those visiting Local Health Units in other counties should call ahead to ensure vaccine is available. Local Health Unit listing can be found at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units

Hep A Frequently Asked Questions

The following information is from Arkansas Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control. For additional information, go to their websites linked below.

  • What is Hepatitis A?


    Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

  • How serious is hepatitis A?


    Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death; this is more common in people older than 50 and in people with other liver diseases.

  • How is hepatitis A spread?


    Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also spread from close personal contact with an infected person such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.

    Contamination of food (this can include frozen and undercooked food) by hepatitis A can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. Contamination of food or water is more likely to occur in countries where hepatitis A is common and in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene. In the United States, chlorination of water kills hepatitis A virus that enters the water supply. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely monitors natural bodies of water used for recreation for fecal contamination so there is no need for monitoring for hepatitis A virus specifically.

  • I think I have been exposed to hepatitis A. What should I do?


    If you have any questions about potential exposure to hepatitis A, call your health professional or your local or state health department.

    If you were recently exposed to hepatitis A virus and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, you might benefit from an injection of either immune globulin or hepatitis A vaccine. However, the vaccine or immune globulin are only effective if given within the first 2 weeks after exposure. A health professional can decide what is best based on your age and overall health.

  • What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?


    Older children and adults typically have symptoms. If symptoms develop, they can appear abruptly and can include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Dark urine
    • Diarrhea
    • Clay-colored stools
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

    Most children younger than age 6 do not have symptoms when they have hepatitis A. When symptoms are present, young children typically do not have jaundice but most older children and adults with hepatitis A have jaundice.

    How soon after exposure to hepatitis A will symptoms appear?

    If symptoms occur, they usually start appearing 4 weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as 2 and as late as 7 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.

    How long do hepatitis A symptoms last?

    Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people (10%–15%) with hepatitis A can have symptoms for as long as 6 months.

    Can a person spread hepatitis A without having symptoms?

    Yes. Many people, especially children, have no symptoms. In addition, a person can transmit the virus to others up to 2 weeks before symptoms appear.

  • How is hepatitis A diagnosed? How is it Treated?


    A doctor can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample.

    Unvaccinated people who have been exposed recently (within 2 weeks) to the hepatitis A virus should get the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness. To treat the symptoms of hepatitis A, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. Some people will need medical care in a hospital. It can take a few months before people with hepatitis A begin to feel better.

  • Can hepatitis A be prevented?


    Yes. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. To get the full benefit of the hepatitis A vaccine, more than one shot is needed. The number and timing of these shots depends on the type of vaccine you are given. Practicing good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food – plays an important role in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

    Follow-Up Questions

    How is the hepatitis A vaccine given?

    The hepatitis A vaccine is safe and effective and given as 2 shots, 6 months apart. Both shots are needed for long-term protection. The hepatitis A vaccine also comes in a combination form, containing both hepatitis A and B vaccine, that can be given to anyone 18 years of age and older. This combination vaccine is given as 3 shots, over 6 months. All three shots are needed for long-term protection for both hepatitis A and B.

    Is the hepatitis A vaccine effective?

    Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing hepatitis A virus infection. A second hepatitis A shot results in long-term protection.

    Is the hepatitis A vaccine safe?

    Yes, the hepatitis A vaccine is safe. No serious side effects have been reported from the hepatitis A vaccine. Soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect reported. As with any medicine, there is always a small risk that a serious problem could occur after someone gets the vaccine. However, the potential risks associated with hepatitis A are much greater than the potential risks associated with the hepatitis A vaccine. Since the licensure of the first hepatitis A vaccine in 1995, millions of doses of hepatitis A vaccine have been given in the United States and worldwide.

    Who should not receive the hepatitis A vaccine?

    People who have ever had a serious allergic reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine or who are known to be allergic to any part of the hepatitis A vaccine should not receive the vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies. Also, the vaccine is not licensed for use in infants under age 1 year.