What is Hepatitis? Types of Hepatitis Viruses

What is Hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis is an Inflammation of the Liver
  • There are 5 main Hepatitis viruses referred to as types A, B, C, D & E

Types of Hepatitis Viruses-

1. Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)-

It’s a Liver disease caused by Hepatitis A virus

Incubation period– Approx. 28 days

Mode of Transmission

  • The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily by the fecal-oral route; that is when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person
  • Waterborne outbreaks are usually associated with sewage-contaminated or inadequately treated water
  • The virus can also be transmitted through close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person


  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Yellowing of skin & eyes
  • Itchy skin

Tests for Hepatitis A-

  • IgM & IgG Anti HAV Antibody test
  • When a person is exposed to Hepatitis A, the body first produces Hepatitis A IgM antibodies, typically develop 2 to 3 weeks after first being infected & persist for about 3 to 6 months
  • Hepatitis A IgG antibodies are produced within 1 to 2 weeks of the IgM antibodies and usually persist for life

Hepatitis A Prevention-

  • Hepatitis A is commonly passed on by eating food prepared by someone who is infected with the virus & hands have not been washed properly
  • You can also get it by drinking contaminated water
  • So washing your hands each time you go to the toilet, before preparing your food or before eating, after coughing or sneezing or touching any dirty surface
  • Properly washing all fruits & vegetables
  • Avoiding raw or undercooked meat & fish
  • Drinking safe water & if possible boil water before drinking

Sharing needles or unsafe sexual contact-

  • Hepatitis A can also be passed on through sharing needles & sex without a condom
  • Know the status of your sexual partners.
  • Using a new male or female condom
  • Washing your hands after handling used condoms
  • Using a new condom for every sexual partner and having regular STI (Sexually transmitted infections) tests
  • Make sure you use new injecting equipment every time you inject drugs

2. Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)-

It’s a part of a group of Hepatitis viruses that attacks the liver

Incubation period – 90 days

Mode of Transmission-

  • Percutaneous (i.e. puncture through the skin) or mucosal contact with infectious blood or body fluids (e.g. semen and saliva)
  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation Equipment
  • Birth to a Hepatitis B infected mother
  • Exposures to needle sticks or sharp instruments
  • Sharing razors and glucose monitoring equipment that results in exposure to blood


  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Joint pains
  • Yellowish discoloration of skin & sclera

Tests for Hepatitis B-

  1. HBsAg(Hepatitis B Surface Antigen)
  2. Anti-HBs or HBsAb(Hepatitis B Surface Antibody)
  3. Anti-HBcor HBcAb (Hepatitis B Core Antibody)

Hepatitis B Virus Prevention-.

 Knowing the status of your sexual partner

  • Using a new male or a female condom
  • Getting vaccinated if you think you may be at an increased risk
  • Never share needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with blood, such as razors, toothbrushes or manicure
  • Make sure new, sterile needles are used for body piercing, tattoos or acupuncture
  • Pregnant women with Hepatitis B can pass the virus on to their unborn baby, which is why women are routinely tested for hepatitis B
  • An infection can be prevented if an infant receives the recommended vaccinations in time

3. Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-

It’s a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV)

Incubation period – 45 days

Mode of Transmission-

  • Sharing injection drugs & needles
  • Having sex with an HIV infected person, STD or several partners
  • Being stuck by infected needles
  • A mother can pass it to a child
  • Sharing personal care items like toothbrushes, razor blades
  • Getting a tattoo or piercing with dirty equipments


  • Clay-colored stool
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow discoloration of eyes and skin
  • Joints pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

Tests for Hepatitis C-

HCV antibody test

Hepatitis C virus prevention-

Same as Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B

 Read Also: Benefits of Seabuckthorn

4. Hepatitis D-

Hepatitis D, also known as “Delta Hepatitis”

It’s a Liver infection caused by Hepatitis D virus

Hepatitis D occurs in people who are also infected with the hepatitis B virus

When a person becomes infected with both Hepatitis B & Hepatitis D Viruses at the same time then it’s known as “Coinfection”

When a person is gets infected with Hepatitis D virus after first being infected with the hepatitis B virus then this condition is known as “Superinfection”

Incubation period – 90 days

Mode of Transmission-

  • The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery
  • Contact with blood or other body fluids
  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Injecting-drugs that involves sharing needles, syringes or drug-preparation equipments


The symptoms of Hepatitis D virus are same as that of Hepatitis B virus

Tests for Hepatitis D virus-

HBsAg (Hepatitis B Surface Antigen)

Hepatitis D Virus prevention-

Same as Hepatitis B Virus prevention

5. Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)-

  • It is an inflammation of Liver caused by Hepatitis E Virus
  • The virus has 4 different genotypes- 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • Genotypes 1 and 2 have been found only in humans
  • Genotypes 3 and 4 circulate in several animals without causing any disease & occasionally infect humans

Incubation period –  5-6 weeks

Mode of Transmission-

  • Fecal-oral route
  • Contaminated Food
  • Contaminated water
  • Ingestion of undercooked Meat or Meat products
  • Transfusion of infected blood products
  • Vertical transmission from a pregnant woman to her baby


  • Mild fever
  • Reduced appetite (anorexia)
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Itching (without skin lesions)
  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowish discoloration of the Skin & Sclera
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • A slightly enlarged, tender liver (Hepatomegaly)

Tests for Hepatitis E virus-

  • IgM Anti-HEV antibody test
  • IgG Anti-HEV antibody test

Prevention of Hepatitis E Virus-

  • Maintaining quality standards for public water supplies
  • Establishing proper disposal systems for human feces
  • Maintaining hygienic practices
  • Avoiding consumption of impure water


World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28th July to raise awareness of Viral Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer

This year’s theme is “Hepatitis can’t wait”, conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate Hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Viral hepatitis is increasingly being recognized in HIV-infected individuals and has become one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality Co-infection with either Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C leads to accelerated progression to Chronic Hepatitis, Cirrhosis & Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

All individuals should be evaluated for co-infections and vaccinations for HAV and HBV performed if needed.

The response to anti-HCV and HIV treatment has improved significantly over recent years.

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