• Conditions InDepth: Viral Hepatitis

    Viral hepatitis is an infection of the liver. There are several different viruses that cause hepatitis. They are called hepatitis A , B , C , D, and E viruses. The viruses are transmitted in different ways. Complications include chronic liver disease, liver failure, and liver cancer for some types of hepatitis.
    Hepatitis
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which is usually found in the stool (bowel movements) of infected people. It is spread by:
    • Putting something in your mouth that has been infected with the hepatitis A virus
    • Drinking water contaminated by raw sewage
    • Eating food contaminated by the hepatitis A virus, especially if it has not been properly cooked
    • Eating raw or partially cooked shellfish contaminated by raw sewage
    • Changing diapers and not adequately washing your hands—Food or work areas can be contaminated by the hepatitis A virus when food is handled.
    • Having sex with a partner infected with the hepatitis A virus (particularly anal sex)

    Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. Hepatitis B can be spread by:
    • Having sex with someone infected with hepatitis B or who is a carrier of hepatitis B
    • Injecting illicit drugs, especially with shared needles
    • Having a job that involves contact with bodily fluids
    • Giving birth—A woman infected with hepatitis can pass the virus on to her baby during childbirth.
    • Receiving a blood transfusion (especially prior to 1992 when better screening tests for hepatitis viruses were developed) or multiple transfusions of blood or blood products—This risk is greatly reduced with careful blood screening using modern techniques.
    • Being bitten by someone whose saliva contains the virus
    • Undergoing long-term kidney dialysis treatment—The dialysis machine can be tainted with HBV-infected blood.
    • Receiving a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture with unsterilized or improperly sterilized equipment
    • Receiving an HBV-infected organ transplant
    • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, or other personal hygiene items that have HBV-infected blood or body fluids on them

    Hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C virus is carried in the blood of people infected with the virus. It is primarily spread through contact with infected blood. It can occasionally be spread other ways. HCV can be spread by:
    • Injecting illicit drugs with shared needles or sharing inhalation tubes when inhaling drugs
    • Receiving HCV-infected blood transfusions, especially before 1992 when better screening tests were developed
    • Receiving blood clotting products, especially older types that have not gone through modern purification and production methods
    • Receiving an HCV-infected organ transplant
    • Receiving long-term kidney dialysis treatment
    • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, or other personal hygiene items that have HCV-infected blood on them
    • Being accidentally stuck by an HCV-infected needle (a concern for healthcare workers)
    • Receiving a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture with unsterilized or improperly sterilized equipment
    • Giving birth
    • Having sexual contact with someone infected with HCV

    Hepatitis D

    Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). It occurs only in people who have hepatitis B. Patients may have more severe disease and a higher risk of liver damage than those infected with HBV alone. It is spread through contact with infected blood and through:
    • Having sexual contact with someone infected with HDV
    • Living with an HDV-infected person—Close personal contact has been found to cause hepatitis D.
    • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, or other personal hygiene items that have HDV-infected blood on them

    Hepatitis E

    Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV), which can be found in the stool (bowel movements) of infected people. It is uncommon in the US, but it is a risk to international travelers. The virus is spread by:
    • Putting something in your mouth that has been infected with the hepatitis E virus
    • Drinking water contaminated by raw sewage
    • Eating food contaminated by the hepatitis E virus, especially if it has not been properly cooked
    • Eating raw or partially cooked shellfish contaminated by raw sewage
    What are the risk factors for hepatitis?What are the symptoms of hepatitis?How is hepatitis diagnosed?What are the treatments for hepatitis?Are there screening tests for hepatitis?How can I reduce my risk of hepatitis?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with hepatitis?Where can I get more information about hepatitis?

    References

    Hepatitis A. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/hepatitisa/ . Updated August 17, 2010. Accessed January 19, 2011.

    Viral hepatitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdcnpin.org/scripts/hepatitis/index.asp . Updated October 15, 2010. Accessed January 19, 2011.

    What I need to know about Hepatitis B. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepb%5Fez/index.htm . Published April 2009. Accessed January 19, 2011.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.