Chronic hepatitis C is a long-lasting liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. During the first 6 months of the infection, it's called acute hepatitis. For most people with acute hepatitis C -- up to 80% -- their illness moves on to a chronic, lasting hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease. It most commonly comes from contaminated food or water. This form of hepatitis never leads to a chronic infection and usually has no complications. The liver usually heals from hepatitis A within two months. However, occasional deaths from hepatitis A have occurred due to massive liver infection. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis B: This form of hepatitis causes liver damage. Most people recover from the virus within six months, but sometimes the virus will cause a lifelong, chronic infection, possibly resulting in serious liver damage. Once infected, a person can spread the virus even if he or she does not feel sick. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis C: One of the most common causes of liver disease in the U.S., Hepatitis C is the No. 1 reason for liver transplant. At least 80% of patients with hepatitis C develop a chronic liver infection. Approximately 2.7 million people in the U.S. are chronically infected with hepatitis C, according to the CDC. It often does not show any symptoms. No vaccine is yet available to prevent hepatitis C.
Viral hepatitis is often preventable. However, it is still considered a serious health risk because it can: