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How You Get Hepatitis

Modes of transmission of Hepatitis Infection


Updated May 22, 2014

This article looks at the different ways that you can get hepatitis.

Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis E (HEV) and possibly Hepatitis F (HFV)
Are transmitted by enteric, that is digestive or by fecal routes. The infected person passes the virus to another person who ingests a small amount of infected material. Poor hygiene and poor sanitary conditions in some countries lead to high rates of infection. Some areas of the world are particularly prone to hepatitis E virus e.g. India, South America, Bangladesh, and Central America. One third of people in the United States of America have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis D (HDV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Hepatitis G (HGV) and TTV
These types of hepatitis are transmitted by the parenteral route, parenteral meaning viruses introduced by all other routes except through the intestinal tract.

Transmission of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contaminated blood, sweat, tears, saliva, semen, saliva, vaginal secretions, menstrual blood and breast milk. This can occur when using the same syringe as an infected person, from blood transfusions prior to 1975 (now screened in most countries), having tattoos or body piercing, from mother to child during childbirth, during medical procedures, occupational exposure, during sexual intercourse. Having Hepatitis B does not necessarily mean that he or she is infectious to other people, only some people with HBV are contagious.

Transmission of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is transmitted primarily blood to blood contact; a person is infected by hepatitis C gets that persons blood into their blood stream. Therefore as with hepatitis B, blood transfusions (prior to 1990 in this case), tattooing and body piercing, occupational exposure, medical procedures, intravenous drug use. Sexual contact, anal, oral or genital, has been shown to be an inefficient route of exposure, as is mother-to-child in childbirth.

Transmission of hepatitis D
Hepatitis D is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis B. Hepatitis D can only exist with the hepatitis B virus and can be caught either at the same time as HBV (coinfection) this type is known to clear the body well (90% to 95%). Others get the HDV separately when they are already infected by HBV, (superinfection), here 70% to 95% go on to have the more serious chronic form of HDV.

Transmission of Hepatitis G
Hepatitis G is thought to be transmitted in a similar way to HCV.

Transmission of Transfusion Transmitted Virus (TTV)
Transfusion Transmitted Virus (TTV) has only been associated with hepatitis in people who have had a blood transfusion.

Article Sources: Melissa Palmer MD.,Hepatitis Liver Disease. What you need to know. Avery Publishing Group, CDC Center for Disease Control, WHO World Health Organization

Article Sources:
Palmer, Mellisa. Hepatitis Liver Disease. What you need to know. New York: Avery Publishing Group, 2000.

CDC Center for Disease Control,
WHO World Health Organization

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