IgM antibodies to the Hepatitis A virus suggest a current or recent Hepatitis A viral infection.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL RESULTS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED BY HEALTH eLABS ARE INTENDED FOR GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. AS SUCH THEY ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, PREVENT OR CURE ANY DISEASE, SYNDROME, OR CONDITION WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.
This test can also be purchased as part of our Acute Hepatitis panel.
PREPARATION: No fasting or other special preparation is needed for this test.
What does this test do?
This test determines the amount of IgM antibodies to the Hepatitis A virus circulating in the bloodstream.
Why is this important?
Hepatitis is a general term that means inflammation of the liver. This condition can result from many different causes including excessive alcohol use, medications, chemicals, poisons, toxins, or by infection.
One of the organisms that can infect the liver and cause hepatitis is called Hepatitis A virus (Hep A virus). This virus is transmitted through exposure to contaminated food or water, and from close contact with a person who is carrying the infection such as sharing household items like toothbrushes.
Although millions of people around the world are infected by Hep A virus every year, its incidence in the U.S. is relatively low due to water treatment standards as well as the availability of a vaccine to the virus. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require any treatment except for supportive care, and most people who do become infected with Hep A virus recover completely with no permanent liver damage.
Preventing infection is still the best way to avoid complications however, and practicing good hygiene (including washing your hands frequently) is one of the best ways to protect against contracting hepatitis A.
What do the results mean?
This test does not detect the Hep A virus itself; rather it checks for a specific type of antibodies to Hep A virus – the IgM class.
After infection with the Hepatitis A virus, IgM antibodies are the first kind to be produced beginning within 5-10 days after the onset of symptoms. These IgM antibodies typically persist for the next 3 to 12 months, and then disappear entirely. So their presence in the blood strongly suggests a current or recent Hepatitis A virus infection, which is why this test is used to diagnose liver inflammation that has been caused by an acute HAV infection.
A positive test means that your body is producing IgM antibodies to the Hep A virus, and strongly indicates infection with the Hep A virus. If your test is positive for antibodies, it is vital that you follow up with your physician to discuss what steps should be taken next, if any.
As noted above, it is important to note that it may take 5-10 after exposure to Hep A virus for your body to generate IgM antibodies to the virus. This means that even if your test result is negative, if you think you may have been recently exposed to the Hepatitis A virus then you should likewise follow up with your physician to discuss what steps should be taken next, if any.