Hepatitis A Information Hepatitis A Information
Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. 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.
  • Backgound: Since March 2017, the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) has been assisting several state and local health departments with hepatitis A outbreaks occurring primarily among persons who use injection and non-injection drugs, and/or persons who are homeless.  While Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) managed a small cluster of cases in late 2017 and reported on an increase in activity among Men who have sex with men (MSM) [see health alerts below] like other jurisdictions experiencing outbreaks, activity has decreased in 2018.  CDPH continues to monitor reports of hepatitis A closely given the rapid growth of outbreaks in surrounding states.  Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Arkansas are all experiencing large outbreaks (links to updated case counts).  The 2017-2018 outbreaks continue to have high rates of hospitalizations and death compared to previous hepatitis A outbreaks in the US, especially among individuals with pre-existing chronic liver disease.  Timely reporting and continued vaccination of high risk groups is necessary to prevent a hepatitis A outbreak from spreading to Chicago. 

    Symptoms: Symptoms of HAV include a viral prodrome of fatigue, malaise, fever, muscle aches, followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (more common in children), abdominal pain and hepatitis (elevated serum aminotransferase levels) which can be associated with darkening of urine, pale-colored stools, and yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and/or eyes (scleral icterus). The most common symptom in adults is jaundice (>70%). Transmission occurs by fecal-oral route. Liver failure and death are more likely to occur in persons over the age of 50 years and those with chronic liver disease.

    Prevention: In order to protect Chicago’s highest risk individuals, Chicago Department of Public Health is asking all adult healthcare providers to vaccinate the following high risk groups with any hepatitis A vaccine currently in stock.
    • Homelessness or transient housing
    • Men who have sex with men
    • Users of injection and non-injection drugs
    • History of incarceration
    • Persons with chronic liver disease
    • Travelers*
    • Persons with clotting-factor disorders
    • Persons who work with non-human primates
    • Persons who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee


  • - Have a low threshold to report clinical suspicion for hepatitis A in high risk individuals to Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). High risk individuals include those who are homeless or living in transient housing, men who have sex with men, users of injection and non-injection drugs, and/or individuals with a history of incarceration.
  • - Use this Hepatitis A ER reporting form if you are in the ER and have clinical suspicion for hepatitis A in a high risk individual.
  • - In the setting of national outbreaks, vaccinate high risk patients for hepatitis A now.
  • - Consider repeating non-reactive (NR) hepatitis A IgM results in one week for clinically consistent cases.

  • Save all reactive hepatitis A IgM specimens for 30 days.
Information for Vaccinators Information for Vaccinators

If your organization is interested in receiving Hepatitis A vaccine to administer to high risk populations, please email  vaccine@cityofchicago.org or call 312-746-5382 to discuss.

Emergency Department Hepatitis A Vaccination Program FAQ

Standing orders for administering Hepatitis A Vaccine to Adults

Hepatitis A vaccination - information for health care providers 

Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement (VIS

Hepatitis A Patient Evaluation and Management for ED and Outpatient Providers

December 2018 CHART newsletter 

Manufacturer’s Vaccine Assistance Programs: The following is provided for adult clients who need help paying for vaccines, is for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any certain vaccine brand/manufacturer.

  • Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program for uninsured adults 19 years and older. Call 1-800-293-3881 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, Mon. through Fri. or visit:  the website.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vaccines Access Program which provides adult GSK vaccines to eligible low income patients who do not have third party coverage for vaccines. Call 1-877-VAC-2911 (1-877-822-2911) or visit: https://www.gskforyou.com/vaccines-patient-assistance/.
Pride 2019 Pride 2019

Vaccination Recommendations Ahead of 2019 Pride Events

Upcoming Pride events, students returning home from college, and travel from other states may increase the risk of hepatitis A, mumps, and measles transmission.

This is the time of year to get all high-risk adults, including men who have sex with men (MSM), up to date on recommended vaccines including:


  • Hepatitis A vaccine: One-time vaccination series (2 doses of Vaqta® or Havrix® or 3 doses of Twinrix®).
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine: 2 documented doses, serologic proof of immunity, or at least 1 dose now if vaccination status is unknown to protect against measles and mumps.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: Revaccination every 5 years for persons at increased risk.

Please see the June 6, 2019 HAN message for more information.

Hepatitis A update Hepatitis A update

March 26, 2019 Update:  Return of Outbreak-Associated Hepatitis A virus (HAV) to Chicago: New risk for spread since end of 2017-2018 wave, renewed call for cases.  Click Here for more information

December 13, 2018 Hepatitis A update:  Illinois declares Hep A outbreak click here for more information.

For Chicago partners: April 2019 issue of CHART newsletter click here to view document (updated April 29, 2019).

Information for Providers and Patients Information for Providers and Patients
Hepatitis A - Contact Us Hepatitis A - Contact Us

Clinical Contact

For Clinical questions please contact:

The CDPH Disease Reporting Number



Report all cases of hepatitis A to the Chicago Department of Public Health

Contact Communicable Disease Hepatitis Surveillance at (phone) 312-743-9000, (fax) 312-746-6388.


 If you have any hepatitis A vaccine expiring soon that you do not plan to use,

please contact ChicagoVFC@cityofchicago.org.

If your organization is interested in receiving Hepatitis A vaccine to administer to high risk populations, please email vaccine@cityofchicago.org or call 312-746-5382 to discuss.

If your organization has the ability and would like to distribute hygiene kits to homeless individuals, please call Donovan Robinson at 312-746-6286.