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Types of Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis Virus Description Causes/Route of Transmission Treatment Prevention
HAV Contagious, acute inflammation of the liver; most people recover completely. Ingestion of trace fecal matter from unwashed hands or eating food prepared in unsanitary conditions. No medications; plenty of fluids and bed rest with a nutritious diet; avoid alcohol or medications that can further damage the liver during recovery. Vaccine available.
HBV Contagious, acute liver infection that may become chronic.

Exposure to body fluids infected with the virus; transmitted via:

  • unprotected sex
  • contact with infected blood
  • sharing needles, syringes, razors, or toothbrushes with infected person
  • mother to child during childbirth
No medications; plenty of fluids and bed rest with a nutritious diet; avoid alcohol or medications that can further damage the liver during recovery. Chronic infection is treated with antivirals only if severe complications arise to prevent liver damage.

Vaccine available.
Avoid risky behavior.

HCV Contagious liver infection; 75-85 percent of those infected develop chronic infection and 60-70 percent will develop chronic liver disease.

Exposure to body fluids infected with the virus; transmitted via:

  • needle sharing or accidental needle-stick
  • mother to child
  • rarely through sexual contact
Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases. No vaccine available.
Avoid risky behavior.
HDV

Viral infection that can damage the liver; can multiply only if HBV is present. There are two types of infection:

  • co-infection – infection with HBV and HDV simultaneously
  • superinfection – person has HBV infection and then becomes infected with HDV

Exposure to body fluids infected with the virus; transmitted via:

  • unprotected sex
  • contact with infected blood
  • sharing needles, syringes, razors, or toothbrushes with infected person
  • mother to child during childbirth
HDV infection may resolve on its own in persons co-infected with HBV. Overall, the relative risk of developing cirrhosis in patients coinfected with HBV and HDV is twice that of patients infected with HBV alone. For those uninfected, get HBV vaccine, since HDV requires HBV to multiply. For those with HBV, there is no HDV vaccine. Avoid risky behavior.
HEV Acute inflammatory liver disease that does not become chronic. Drinking water contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. Transmission through blood is rare. No medications; plenty of fluids and bed rest with a nutritious diet; avoid alcohol or medications that can further damage the liver during recovery. No vaccine available.
Avoid contaminated water.

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