Hepatitis A historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Hepatitis A virus was first identified in 1973. It was classified as a separate disease from other types of hepatitis during World War II. However, its true prevalence and route of transmission would only be recognized later. During 1995-1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the inactivated hepatitis A vaccine. Consequently, hepatitis A became a disease that was not only common but also vaccine-preventable.

Historical Perspective

The earliest descriptions of diseases similar to Hepatitis A virus were reported 5000 years ago in China. Hippocrates also described a disease resembling hepatitis A that he called benign epidemic jaundice [1].

During the 17th century, outbreaks of hepatitis A were reported in military camps. In the US, first outbreak of more than 40,000 cases was reported in 1812 in Norfolk, VA. An estimated 16 million cases of hepatitis A were reported during the world war I and World War II [1].

Hepatitis A virus was first identified in 1973. In the US, hepatitis A vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Feinstone SM (2019). "History of the Discovery of Hepatitis A Virus". Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 9 (5). doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a031740. PMC 6496330. PMID 29712682.

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