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County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Division of HIV and STD Programs
600 S. Commonwealth Avenue, 10th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. M - F
Phone: (213) 351-8000
Fax: (213) 738-0825
Email: aids@ph.lacounty.org
     

 

HEPATITIS

Hepatitis Quick Facts

Hepatitis Definition

  • The word "hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Overview of Hepatitis Viruses

Hepatitis A Virus

  • Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV infection produces a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease. HAV infection is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route, by either person-to-person contact or through consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A vaccination is the most effective measure to prevent HAV infection and is recommended for all children at age 1, certain international travelers, and others at risk for HAV infection. 

Hepatitis B Virus

  • Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV infection can cause acute illness and lead to chronic or lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. HBV is transmitted through percutaneous (puncture through the skin) or mucosal contact with infectious blood or body fluids. Hepatitis B vaccination is the most effective measure to prevent HBV infection and its consequences and is recommended for all infants and others at risk for HBV infection.

Hepatitis C Virus

  • Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a silent, chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer, and death. Chronic HCV infection develops in a majority of HCV-infected persons, most of whom do not know they are infected since they have no symptoms. HCV is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. 

Hepatitis D Virus

  • Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), and only occurs in people already infected with hepatitis B, since HDV needs the hepatitis B virus to replicate. HDV is transmitted through percutaneous (puncture through the skin) or mucosal contact with infectious blood.

Hepatitis E Virus

  • Hepatitis E is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) that usually results in a self-limited disease. HEV infection is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route, mostly through consumption of contaminated water. While rare in the United States, hepatitis E is common in many parts of the world. Ongoing trials for a vaccine against hepatitis E have shown promising results.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Hepatitis Viruses

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