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.
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
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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