The Hepatitis A (HAV) virus causes a non-fatal illness of varying severity. It is a waterborne virus, excreted in feces and can be transmitted sexually (through anal sex), by close contact and by contact with contaminated food and water supplies.
Hepatitis A can be prevented by washing your hands before handling food and avoiding contaminated water supplies. Most people will make a complete recovery from Hepatitis A. Any person who has been in recent contact with someone infected with Hepatitis A (in approximately the last 2-3 weeks) should see their Doctor, there is treatment to prevent the disease from developing. There is also a vaccine for Hepatitis A which is recommended for people who travel overseas.
This virus can cause varying degrees of severity. Although not as common as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B infection has a tendency to be much more severe, and it can cause death. Transmitted by blood and other body fluids, including semen and saliva, there are approximately estimated 300,000 carriers in the U.S.A. There is a vaccine available and it is recommended for people who have Hepatitis C or who are I.V. drug users or health care workers. This vaccine is also mandatory for all school age children.
Hepatitis B produces very few symptoms, so few in fact that most people do not even know that they are infected with it. Only 25% of the people who have Hepatitis B will become ill. Up to 10% of the infected adults and most infected infants will become long term carriers, who can infect others. Some of those who are infected will completely recover, while others can go on to develop liver disease and or liver cancer.
All blood now used in hospitals for transfusions is screened for Hepatitis B, (and Hepatitis C). You are still at risk of being infected with it via contaminated needles, such as those used in acupuncture, for tattooing and injecting drugs. Sex is another source of infection and babies born to infected mothers can also be infected. All infants are given the HBV vaccine at birth.
People travelling to South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where Hepatitis B is prevalent, should also be vaccinated.
Also called DELTA hepatitis. Hepatitis D requires coinfection with Hepatitis B virus in order for it to reproduce. The Hepatitis B vaccination is effective at cancelling any threat. It has a mortality rate of 20% (1 in 5). Hepatitis D (DELTA) is very rare in the U.S.
Hepatitis E is caused by a waterborne virus, spread by fecal contamination of food and water. It causes immediate illness from which most people manage to recover with no long term problems. Hepatitis E is very rare in the U.S.
10 – 15% of pregnant women infected with the Hepatitis E virus can prove fatal. There is no vaccine available.
Hepatitis F was thought to be of French origin but has not been confirmed and it now seems likely that no such virus exists. This letter has now been dropped from the hepatitis alphabet.
This is the most recent of the Hepatitis Viruses. Not a much is known about the Hepatitis G virus.
Hepatitis G appears to be transmitted by blood, much the same was as the Hepatitis C virus. It is closely related to the Hepatitis C virus. It is not yet thought to cause serious illness, rather it is thought that it may encourage other strains of hepatitis to progress more rapidly. There is no test or vaccine for Hepatitis G.
It is estimated that up to 20% of people who inject drugs may be infected with the Hepatitis “G” virus.