Hepatitis Quick Facts
LIVER HEALTH CONNECTION FACT SHEET REVIEWED 070116
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Viruses cause most cases of hepatitis. The type of hepatitis is named for the virus that causes it; for example, hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Drug or alcohol use can also cause hepatitis.
The hepatitis A virus is transmitted when fecal matter containing the virus is ingested, most commonly through food. Infections with hepatitis A are self-limited and never result in chronic infection or serious liver damage. A 2-shot series vaccine is available (recommended for international travel) and can provide life-long immunity. For more information on hepatitis A, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HAV/
The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and sexual fluids. Unprotected sexual contact, injection drug use, and mother-to-child are the most common routes of infection. Chronic infection is possible, and a high risk for unimmunized infants and young children exposed to the virus. 2 or 3-shot series vaccines are available (required in most states for children in school) and can provide life-long immunity. To learn more about hepatitis B, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HBV/
Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation and scarring of the liver which may lead to complications such as cirrhosis, cancer, liver failure, and even death. There are 9 genotypes and over 50 subtypes within those genotypes. Genotype 1 is the most common HCV genotype in the United States. HCV is transmitted by contaminated blood that enters the blood stream of a non-infected person through a cut, or tear in the skin or mucous membrane in order for a new infection to occur.
The hepatitis D virus (also known as “delta hepatitis”) is transmitted through blood, but can only infect someone when the hepatitis B virus is also present. Hepatitis D is uncommon in the United States, and there is no vaccine: Read more at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HDV/
Like hepatitis A, the hepatitis E virus is transmitted through the ingestion of fecal matter, most commonly in contaminated water in countries with poor sanitation. Hepatitis E is rare in the United States, but common in other parts of the world. There currently is no vaccine. Find out more about hepatitis E here: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HEV/