Hepatitis A infection is typically transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Symptomatic infection is highly dependent on the age of the patient and usually follows a self-limited course. Once diagnosed, clinical and biochemical follow-up in the outpatient setting is generally appropriate. Treatment aims are to achieve symptomatic relief and to maintain adequate hydration and caloric intake. In patients with more severe disease, hospitalization may be needed to accomplish aggressive symptomatic therapy and close monitoring of liver function tests and mental status. Prompt evaluation for liver transplantation is appropriate in the rare case where fulminant liver failure develops. Given the absence of specific therapy for hepatitis A virus infection, the most important health care intervention is prevention of infection and/or transmission, which can be accomplished with the safe and effective use of immune globulin and commercially available vaccines.
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