About Hepatitis

From the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis and other foodborne illness outbreaks.

Chapter 5

Complications of Hepatitis A Infection

Fulminant hepatitis A, or acute liver failure, can be a complication of hepatitis A infection.

Fulminant hepatitis A is a rare but devastating complication of HAV infection. [10] As many as 50% of individuals with acute liver failure may die or require emergency liver transplantation. [23] Elderly patients and patients with chronic liver disease are at higher risk for fulminant hepatitis A. [11, 23] In parallel with a declining incidence of acute HAV infection in the general population, however, the incidence of fulminant HAV appears to be decreasing. [23]HAV infects the liver’s parenchymal cells (internal liver cells). [10, 11] Once a cell has been penetrated by the viral particles, the hepatitis A virus releases its own toxins that cause, in essence, a hostile takeover of the host’s cellular system. [11, 22] The cell then produces new viral components that are released into the bile capillaries or tubes that run between the liver’s parenchymal cells. [11] This process results in the death of liver cells, called hepatic necrosis. [11, 23]

The fulminant form of hepatitis occurs when this necrotic process kills so many liver cells—upwards of three-quarters of the liver’s total cell count—that the liver can no longer perform its job. [10, 23] Aside from the loss of liver function, fulminant hepatic failure can lead to encephalopathy and cerebral edema. [10] Encephalopathy is a brain disorder that causes central nervous system depression and abnormal neuromuscular function. [10, 11] Cerebral edema is a swelling of the brain that can result in dangerous intracranial pressure. [10] Intracranial hypertensions leading to brain stem death and sepsis with multiple organ failure are the leading causes of death in individuals with fulminant hepatic failure. [10, 23]

Previous Chapter

Symptoms of Hepatitis A Infection

Next Chapter

Diagnosis of Hepatitis A Infection

Related Blog Articles

The Hepatitis blog supplements this Marler Clark website About Hepatitis | Subscribe

Connect with Marler Clark


1012 First Avenue
Fifth Floor
Seattle, WA 98104


M-F, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Pacific

Call toll free:

1 (800) 884-9840

If you have questions about foodborne illness, your rights or the legal process, we’d be happy to answer them for you.