Types of Hepatitis Virus and its Transmission
Hepatitis virus causes liver inflammation that can be acute or chronic, and one of many types – the main ones being hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. It can also lead to fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, or liver cancer.
The main causes of hepatitis are contaminated food and water and infected body fluids. Thus any activity that allows this kind of contact can transmit the virus and lead to infection. Symptoms may or may not show up, and include yellowing of the eyes and skin, nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, etc.
The following are the types of hepatitis virus and their modes of transmission:
- Hepatitis A – This virus causes inflammation which takes about two months to heal. It is spread through contaminated food and water, or close contact with an infected person. Unhygienic practices, eating raw seafood from polluted water, having sexual relations with an infected person, etc. are some routes of transmission.
- Hepatitis B – The acute form takes less than six months to heal, but if it is chronic then the recovery period is more than six months. It may also develop into long-term liver damage, liver cirrhosis, or liver cancer. Infected body fluids such as blood, saliva, semen, vaginal discharge, etc., are major conduits for transmitting the virus. Thus, unprotected sex, sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needles and other such equipment, visiting places with high HBV infection rates, etc., are all risk factors. The virus may also be passed on from mother to baby during childbirth.
- Hepatitis C – It may be acute or chronic, and rarely reveals itself through symptoms. This virus spreads through contaminated blood and other fluids. Coming in contact with an infected needle, using dirty equipment for transfusions and transplants, sharing tattoo needles, being born in an era or in a place with high HCV rates, all increase risk of contracting the disease. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted from a mother to baby during childbirth.
- Hepatitis D – It only infects people who are infected by hepatitis B. It can be acute or chronic, and occurs suddenly with severe symptoms. The virus is spread through infected fluids such as semen, urine, vaginal discharge, blood, etc.
- Hepatitis E – This is an acute condition which usually goes away on its own, but may lead to acute liver failure in extreme cases. Contamination by faecal matter is a major cause of the disease, so visiting areas with poor sanitation and high hepatitis rates may place you at a risk. It may also be transmitted through infected animal products, childbirth, etc.
Other causes of hepatitis include alcohol and drugs, and autoimmune disease that turns against the liver. Heredity, a history of infections like herpes simplex and measles, certain autoimmune diseases, and simply being female can increase risk for autoimmune hepatitis.
Avoiding all these factors that can lead to infection is possible if you maintain proper hygiene and get vaccinated against the viruses. If you suspect that you’re at risk, it is advisable to get tested as early as possible. Book an appointment at Apollo Diagnostics for quick and accurate testing.