Hepatitis Illnesses Hit Record Lows
Reported Illness from Hepatitis A, B, C Drops Dramatically, Says CDC
WebMD News Archive
March 15, 2007 -- Reported illness from hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and
hepatitis C dropped dramatically in the U.S. from 1995 to 2005, hitting record
lows, says the CDC.
Reported acute cases of hepatitis A and hepatitis B haven't been this low
since the government started keeping hepatitis records in 1966.
Reported acute cases of hepatitis C are also at a record low, but those
records don't date back as far, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis is a liver disease caused by at least five different viruses, in
addition to its non-viral causes. Hepatitis A, B, and C are America's three
most common types of viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis infection doesn't always trigger immediate symptoms -- which can
include jaundice and abdominal pain -- and the CDC's new data doesn't include
people with hepatitis who have no symptoms.
" ... There are still a larger number of infections that are out there
than are caught by our surveillance," says CDC epidemiologist Annemarie
However, "The fact that we're seeing declining numbers of new
symptomatic cases indicates that the number of new infections is also
declining," Wasley, who works in the CDC's division of viral hepatitis,
The CDC estimates that about 113,000 people in the U.S. became infected with
one of these three hepatitis viruses in 2005.
The statistics appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:
Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis confuses many people because there are so many different
Also, people with hepatitis often have no symptoms, although viral hepatitis
infections can be detected with a blood test.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with the
hepatitis A virus. Poor sanitary conditions and personal hygiene practices
contribute to spread of the disease.
Hepatitis A is not a chronic disease, and once you have gotten over a
hepatitis A infection, you can't get it again.
Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis B and C can be chronic and can lead to
permanent liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Inflammation of the liver can also be due to noninfectious causes of
hepatitis such as alcohol and certain medications.