Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can be brought on by alcohol, drugs, viruses and other toxins. Viral hepatitis refers to hepatitis resulting from infection of the liver by viruses. These include the hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. They all infect the liver, giving rise to inflammation and all produce similar symptoms. The main difference between them is the mode of transmission and their long-term effect on a person’s health.
While there are reports of hepatitis F and G, hepatitis F is a hypothetical virus whose existence has not been shown, and the so-called hepatitis G was shown to be not associated with liver disease.
Hepatitis can be acute or long-term (chronic). An acute infection will last only a short time and although symptoms can be severe, most people recover from the illness with no lasting effects. Chronic hepatitis is on-going and can last for the rest of a person’s life.
The most common forms of hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis A is acute, with no long term effects. Hepatitis B and C may be acute or chronic and when chronic can lead to serious liver disease. You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is no vaccination for hepatitis C, but effective treatments are available.
Death from acute viral hepatitis is rare. With early diagnosis, regular monitoring and medical treatment, chronic viral hepatitis can be cured, or managed with good outcomes.
Hepatitis A is a short term liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Worldwide, an estimated 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A occur each year. Hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but the symptoms can be debilitating.
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B infection can lead to long-term liver disease. Left unmanaged, it can result in cirrhosis or liver cancer. More than two billion people worldwide have been infected by hepatitis B and of these about 257 million are living with long-term (also known as chronic) hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. A number of people will experience no symptoms, while others will experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Left unmanaged, hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver and serious liver disease. World-wide, there are an estimated 71 million people living with chronic (long-term) hepatitis C.