Hepatitis A is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

It is uncommon in New Zealand. If you are planning to travel to a developing country, you may be at risk, and should consider getting immunised.

If you are concerned about hepatitis A call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.

The virus is spread by contact with the faeces (poos) of an infected person. It can be passed on through:

  • not washing hands properly
  • contaminated food or water – such as from an infected food handler, raw shellfish, commercially prepared salads, fruit, vegetables and frozen berries
  • close personal contact
  • sexual contact – especially between men.

The usual symptoms of hepatitis A are fever, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness and stomach upset, often with diarrhoea. After a few days, people often notice that their urine goes dark, their eyes appear yellow, and the diarrhoea gets smelly and floats. The illness can last from just a few days to several weeks. Adults and teenagers can be very ill with hepatitis A, but it is usually a mild illness in children.

People with hepatitis A recover completely over several weeks or a few months with no permanent damage done. People develop life-long immunity so they can’t get it again.

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. In most cases, the immune system will clear the infection and the liver will completely heal, but this can take several weeks.  Contact your doctor if you have concerns about your illness. 

It is really important to wash and dry your hands thoroughly to prevent spread of hepatitis A virus.  Anyone who has diarrhoea should not go to work, school or daycare.

To help take care of yourself you can:

  • rest
  • eat small meals more often, if you are feeling sick
  • avoid alcohol
  • talk to your doctor about what medicines you are taking to make sure they are not harmful to your liver.

People who have been in close contact with someone with hepatitis A within the previous two weeks should get a hepatitis A immunisation. In most situations, public health nurses will get in touch with people who have been in close contact and offer immunisation. If you have any questions, please contact your family doctor who can call the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

Hepatitis A is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. This allows us to give advice about how to stop it spreading, and check that other people who have been in close contact with the person with the illness haven’t also been infected.  Immunisation is the most effective way of preventing people who have been in close contact with someone who has had Hepatitis A from getting sick.


Information in other languages

  • Fact sheet - Hepatitis A PDF (ARPHS)

Tongan Samoan

  • Fact sheet - Hand Washing and Hygiene PDF (ARPHS)


  • Poster - High five for clean hands PDF (HealthEd)

Te Reo Māori


There are specific requirements for notifiable diseases in the Auckland region.

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Last updated 13.9.2018

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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