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      Hepatitis A

human eye showing signs of jaundice. 

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Enteric, Zoonotic and Vector-Borne Diseases


See the Canadian Immunization Guide for additional groups recommended to receive the hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis A is an acute infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is easily transmitted fr​om person-to-person, with most infections usually occurring as a result of ingestion of food or w​ater contaminated by the feces of infected persons. Fecal-oral spread ca​n also happen through direct person-to-person contact, including oral-anal sexual contact, or from contact with a contaminated environment.

Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop 28 to 30 days after exposure to the virus, although this period can range from 15 to 50 days. Initial symptoms of hepatitis A may include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, followed by signs of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye). Hepatitis A can be asymptomatic, especially among children younger than six years of age.

Prevention of Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A vaccine is publicly-funded in Ontario for:

  • men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • people who use intravenous drugs
  • people with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and C

The hepatitis A vaccine should be considered for other high risk groups including those who use non-injectable illicit drugs, individuals living in communities at high risk for hepatitis A outbreaks or travellers to endemic countries. 

Good hygiene practices like washing hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.​

​Current situation: Ontario and globally

Number of hepatitis A cases in Ontario in 2017 by episode month compared to 2012-16 monthly averages

  • In Ontario, PHO is investigating an increase in the number of reported hepatitis A cases that began in 2017. 

  • Recent cases in Ontario are genetically linked to ongoing outbreaks in Eur​ope and the United Kingdom that are mostly affecting MSM. Some Ontario cases travelled to outbreak-affected areas before becoming ill. However, most did not travel outside Ontario.

  • In addition, outbreaks among MSM, homeless individuals and/or those who use illicit drugs are being reported in other locations including New York​Michigan, California and Utah​.

Graph of the number of hepatitis A cases in Ontario by episode month from 2012 to 2016
Data source: Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, integrated Public Health Information SYstems (iPHIS) database, extracted by PHO [2018/01/12]



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Page last updated: 18/01/2018 10:59 AM
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