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Viral Hepatitis

Common Liver Diseases Viral Hepatitis

What is viral hepatitis?

Viral Hepatitis is an inflammation of the iver caused by a virus infection. This results in liver cell damage and destruction. Five main types of viruses causing Hepatitis have been identified

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E

These types of hepatitis are usually spread by fecal-oral contact which implies that contaminated drinking water is the main source of these infections.

The various modes of spread can be:

  • Touching an infected person’s stool
  • Consuming food made by someone who touched infected stool
  • Drinking water made dirty by infected stool
  • Having anal sexual intercourse with an infected person

Hepatitis B

  • There are 400 million carriers of Hepatitis B in the world
  • 45 million of these are present in India. In other words, 1 in every 20 Indians is a Hepatitis B carrier
  • Of these, 4 million persons carry highly infectious virus in their blood

Hepatitis B virus infection is totally preventable as a safe and highly effective vaccine is easily available

Hepatitis C

  • 1-2 % of Indian population suffers from Hepatitis C – About 20 million infected
  • Once acquired, there is 80% chance of developing chronic disease
  • Unlike Hepatitis B, no effective vaccine is available for its prevention.

Both Hepatitis B and C spread mainly through:

  • Contaminated blood and blood products
  • Sexual contact: especially with multiple partners. Although Hepatitis B can be transmitted between husband and wife, risk of transmission of Hepatitis C is very low in monogamous relationships.
  • In addition, people with alcoholic liver disease may also contract Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis D

This form occurs together with Hepatitis B, making the Hepatitis B infection worse.

Hepatitis viruses A and E cause only Acute Hepatitis.

On the other hand, Hepatitis viruses B (with or without D) and C in addition to acute hepatitis, can result in chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.