Skip to content

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

Viral Hepatitis - Topic Overview

Viral hepatitis is liver inflammation caused by infection with a virus.

The following viruses cause most cases of viral hepatitis:

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis C -- the Basics

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus. The liver becomes inflamed and swollen and stops working as it should. Hepatitis C is a serious disease because the liver is needed to remove toxins that build up in the blood. Hepatitis C can destroy the liver and cause cirrhosis and death. It is the main cause of liver transplants in the world. After being infected with the hepatitis C virus, 75%-85% of people will develop a chronic, long-term, infection. Once...

Read the Understanding Hepatitis C -- the Basics article > >

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV)
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV)

A virus that causes hepatitis can be spread from one person to another. Hepatitis B, C, and D viruses are spread when an uninfected person comes in contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid (including menstrual blood) that is infected with one of these viruses. Hepatitis A and E viruses are spread by contaminated food and water or by coming in direct contact with contaminated stool (feces). Hepatitis E also might be spread by contact with an infected pig. Hepatitis E is very rare in developed countries. Hepatitis D only occurs along with hepatitis B.

In their early stages, these viruses are difficult to tell apart. But within several weeks after infection occurs, blood tests can show which of the viruses is the cause of hepatitis (with the exception of hepatitis E, for which a blood test is not widely available).

The following viruses are less common causes of hepatitis and can be diagnosed using blood tests:

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 30, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Hepatitus C virus
    Types, symptoms and treatments.
    liver illustration
    Myths and facts about this essential organ.
     
    woman eating apple
    What you need to know.
    doctor and patient
    What causes it?
     
    Hepatitis C Treatment
    Article
    Syringes and graph illustration
    Tool
     
    liver illustration
    Quiz
    passport, pills and vaccine
    Slideshow
     
    Scientist looking in microscope
    Slideshow
    Fatty Liver Disease
    Article
     
    Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
    Article
    Picture Of The Liver
    Image Collection