Hepatitis – Quick Facts
- There are five different known types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. They are caused by different viruses. They all cause inflammation of the liver but are transmitted differently.
- In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. In the United States, about 4,000 new hepatitis A infections occur each year.
- Approximately 850,000 people are living with hepatitis B infection.
- An estimated 3.5 million people are living with hepatitis C infection.
- Many people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur, they can include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months. Most people with hepatitis A recover. However, although very rare, death can occur.
- Hepatitis A is spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from a person with the disease. Hepatitis A outbreaks are occurring in the United States among people who use drugs, people who are experiencing homelessness, and men who have sex with men.
- Hepatitis B can be transmitted from having sex with a person who has hepatitis B and sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors.
- People infected with hepatitis B and C can develop a chronic infection that lasts many years. Chronic infection is one of the leading causes of liver cancer.
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are leading causes of liver cancer.
- Hepatitis B and C can be passed from a mother to her baby.
- Hepatitis B and C infection can occur by sharing needles or other equipment that has been contaminated with blood from a person who has the disease or by needlestick injuries in health care settings.
- Since 1992, the United States blood supply has been screened for hepatitis C and transmission through transfusion or organ donation has been virtually eliminated.
- Hepatitis D, known as ‘delta hepatitis,’ is uncommon in the United States. It only occurs in people who are infected with hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E usually resolves without medical treatment. It is more dangerous in pregnant women who are at increased risk of liver failure and death. Hepatitis E does not result in chronic infection.
- Hepatitis E is rare in the United States. It is transmitted from ingestion of fecal matter and is usually associated with contaminated water supplies in countries with poor sanitation.
- Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B.
- There are no medications to treat hepatitis A, acute hepatitis B and acute hepatitis C. There are treatments for chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Updated on: May 3, 2019