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Hepatitis A in Childcare Settings

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by Kerr SJ
IMAGE If you have a young child who attends daycare or if you work as a childcare provider, you know how easily illness can spread. Hepatitis A is a viral infection that is easily spread in childcare settings. Learn more about hepatitis A and how it can be prevented.

How Can I Keep My Child Free From Hepatitis A?

If your child goes to daycare, you may be wondering how you can avoid hepatitis A. The best way to do this is to have your child vaccinated. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for children over 12 months of age and is almost completely protective against this infection.
Another way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A is by practicing good hand hygiene. In addition, follow these steps:
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing a child’s diaper.
  • If your child is potty-trained, teach handwashing practices, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Talk to the staff at the daycare. Ask about their policies for hand washing, food preparation, and diaper changes.
  • Carefully dispose of soiled diapers.

What If There is an Outbreak at My Child’s Daycare?

If your child is exposed to hepatitis A, take these steps to minimize symptoms and to prevent the virus from spreading to others:
  • If recommended by the doctor, have your child receive an injection of immune globulin. This must be given within two weeks of exposure. It can provide temporary immunity for your child.
  • If your child is over one year of age and has not been vaccinated, talk to your child’s doctor about the hepatitis A vaccine. Since your child could expose you to infection even without showing signs of illness, consider immunization for yourself and other family members, as well.
  • Do not transfer your child to another daycare. This could spread the disease to others.
Your child can safely return to daycare one week after symptoms began. Talk to the daycare center about their policy.
No parent ever likes to see their child sick. And working parents know how difficult it can be to find childcare at the last minute when your child cannot go to their usual daycare because of illness. Follow the tips above for good hand hygiene and make sure your daycare does, too!
 

RESOURCES

American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org

Hepatitis Foundation International
http://www.hepfi.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.cps.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

 

References


Hepatitis A. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Hepatitis-A.aspx. Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.


Hepatitis A in daycare. Utah Bureau of Epidemiology website. Available at: http://health.utah.gov/epi/fact%5Fsheets/hepadcc.html. Published August 2001. Accessed October 30, 2013.


Hepatitis A FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/aFAQ.htm. Updated May 13, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.


Klevens RM, Miller JT, Iqbal K, et al. The evolving epidemiology of hepatitis a in the United States: incidence and molecular epidemiology from population-based surveillance, 2005-2007. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(20):1811-1818.


Van Herck K, Jacquet JM, Van Damme P. Antibody persistence and immune memory in healthy adults following vaccination with a two-dose inactivated hepatitis A vaccine: long-term follow-up at 15 years. J Med Virol. 2011;83(11):1885-1891.


Viral hepatitis: A through E and beyond. National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/viralhepatitis/. Updated April 23, 2012. Accessed October 30, 2013.


What you can do to stop disease in your child’s day care center. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. Available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/childcare-what-you-can-do.shtml. Updated February 5, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.

 

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