Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a hepatitis virus that can lead to liver cirrhosis, fibrosis (scarring) and cancer. Hepatitis affects people all over the world, particularly those in developing countries. There are five known strains of hepatitis which are classified as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Let’s take a brief look at each strain.
Hep A is perhaps the mildest and least threatening strain of Hepatitis. Although it can become serious and life-threatening, fatality is extremely rare. Mostly transmitted through contaminated water or food, Hep A is an acute liver disease that typically incubates for 14-28 days. Although Hep A is not associated with chronic liver disease, it can lead to acute liver failure, known medically as fulminant hepatitis. To learn more about Hepatitis A, click here.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood, semen and other bodily fluids. Hep B can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during birth and through contaminated blood transfusion or intravenous drug use. Hepatitis B is an acute liver disease that can become chronic in some people particularly children aged 6 years or younger. Learn more about Hep B here.
Perhaps the most commonly known strain, Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through intravenous drug use, improperly sterilized medical equipment or contaminated blood transfusions. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, however, 95% of cases are cured through antiviral therapy. Read more about Hep C here.
Hepatitis D is unique in that it only develops in people with Hepatitis B. Like Hep B, Hepatitis D is an acute infection that can become chronic. When Hepatitis D affects a person with chronic Hepatitis B, the disease is known as superinfection. Check out more about Hep D here.
Like Hepatitis A, Hep E is considered mild compared to other hepatitis strains and is mostly transmitted through contaminated water or food. Lasting anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks, Hep E symptoms include mild fever, reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting, itching, skin rash or joint pain, as well as jaundice and a slightly enlarged, tender liver. In rare cases, Hep E can cause acute liver failure. Pregnant women with Hep E who are in their second or third trimester are at a greater risk of acute liver failure, fetal loss, and death. Learn more here.