Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The hepatitis A virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation that affects your liver's ability to function.

You're most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who's already infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don't require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

Practicing good hygiene — including washing your hands often — is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Effective vaccines are available for people who are most at risk.

Sep. 01, 2011