Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Most cases of hepatitis in the world are caused by a virus, although some other things like an autoimmune illness or alcohol can also cause it.
There are actually five different types of hepatitis – these are A, B, C,D and E. These can be transferred in different ways and vary in the symptoms that they cause as well as the risk of ongoing illness and death. Here are the five different types and some information about them…
Hepatitis A – This is not very common in the UK. It is usually passed on by poor food hygiene and contaminated drinking water. Food hygiene standards in the UK are monitored by places like MQM food safety consultants so you are not at high risk of contracting Hepatitis A in the UK. However, this is much more common in other parts of the world – parts of South America, as well as Asia and the Middle East have lots more cases of Hepatitis A. Most cases of this virus are not deadly, and most people make a full recovery, however it is a very unpleasant virus, which usually takes around four weeks to show signs of infection.
Hepatitis B – This virus is transferred in bodily fluids such as blood and semen. It is often picked up from unprotected sex, as well as to health workers who care for people with the disease. A vaccination for this is available, although in the UK most people are deemed low risk, however certain workers such as those in health care are recommended to have it. It often cannot cause any symptoms at all in adults, but it is riskier to children who may suffer from it for many years and end up with damage to the liver.
Hepatitis C – The transfer of this form of hepatitis is usually through blood from an infected person. People who work with blood as well as people who use drugs and share needles are more at risk of contracting this virus. There is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C. Unfortunately, people may not notice that they have this until there is a lot of damage to the liver already. There are drugs which in most cases can cure this.
Hepatitis D – This virus can only occur in people who have already been infected with Hepatitis B. Because both will be infecting a person at the same time means that this is a much more serious illness. It needs the B virus to be able to live in the body and is usually transmitted through blood or sexual contact. Long term it can lead to liver cancer as well as more complex liver problems.
Hepatitis E – This is becoming more common and is now the most common form of hepatitis in the UK. Like Hepatitis A it is transferred via food – usually undercooked meat such as offal as well as shellfish. In most cases it can be treated at home but can cause problems for those who have weaker immune systems already.