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Inflammation of the liver, due usually to viral infection but sometimes to toxic agents.
[hepat- + -itis]

Previously endemic throughout much of the developing world, viral hepatitis now ranks as a major public health problem in industrialized nations. The three most common types of viral hepatitis (A, B, and C) afflict millions worldwide. Acute viral hepatitis is characterized by varying degrees of fever, malaise, weakness, anorexia, nausea, and abdominal distress. Hepatocellular damage causes bilirubin retention, often with jaundice, and a rise in serum levels of certain enzymes (particularly transaminases). Hepatitis A, caused by an RNA enterovirus, is spread by the fecal-oral route, most often through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The case fatality rate is less than 1% and recovery is complete. The presence of antibody to hepatitis A virus indicates prior infection or successful immunization, noninfectivity, and immunity to future attacks. Hepatitis B, due to a small DNA virus of the Hepadnaviridae family, is transmitted through sexual contact, sharing of needles by IV drug abusers, needlestick injuries among health care workers, and from mother to fetus. This disease is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The annual incidence of hepatitis B in the U.S. is 300,000 cases. The incubation period is 6-24 weeks. Some patients become carriers, and in some, an immune response to the virus induces a chronic phase leading to cirrhosis, hepatic failure, and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsSAg) appears in the serum early in the disease; its persistence correlates with chronic infection and infectivity. Core antigen (HbcCAg) appears later and also indicates infectivity. The presence of antibodies to these antigens implies recovery and noninfectivity. Hepatitis C, caused by an RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, was the principal form of transfusion-induced hepatitis before the early 1990s, when screening of donor blood for this virus was initiated. About two thirds of those currently infected have a history of IV drug abuse. The disease can also be transmitted by needles used for body piercing or tattooing and (less often) sexually or from mother to fetus. Early infection is usually asymptomatic. Antibodies to various components of the virus appear early but do not neutralize the virus. The disease is nonetheless self-limited in 15-20% of patients. The rest develop chronic infection, with persistence of detectable viral RNA, and about half experience slowly progressive deterioration of hepatic function. Cirrhosis occurs in 15-20% of patients with hepatitis C. Extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis C virus infection include cryoglobulinemia, glomerulonephritis, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Acute infection with hepatitis B or C has a higher mortality rate than hepatitis A. Effective vaccines are available for active immunization against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Interferon-alfa 2b and lamivudine are sometimes effective in hepatitis B. Combination therapy with interferon-alfa 2a, interferon-alfa 2b, and ribavirin brings about clinical remission in some cases of hepatitis C. Responsiveness depends in part on the genotype of the virus. Hepatitis D is due to a defective RNA virus capable of causing disease only in those previously infected by hepatitis B virus. People infected by both hepatitis B and hepatitis D viruses are at high risk of developing fulminant hepatitis and cirrhosis. Prolonged treatment with interferon is somewhat effective. Hepatitis E, which occurs chiefly in the tropics, resembles hepatitis A in that it is transmitted by the fecal-oral route and does not become chronic or lead to a carrier state, but it has a much higher mortality rate.


/hep·a·ti·tis/ (hep″ah-ti´tis) pl. hepati´tides   Inflammation of the liver.
hepatitis A  a self-limited viral disease of worldwide distribution, usually transmitted by oral ingestion of infected material but sometimes transmitted parenterally; most cases are clinically inapparent or have mild flu-like symptoms; any jaundice is mild.
anicteric hepatitis  viral hepatitis without jaundice.
hepatitis B  an acute viral disease transmitted primarily parenterally, but also orally, by intimate personal contact, and from mother to neonate. Prodromal symptoms of fever, malaise, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting decline with the onset of clinical jaundice, angioedema, urticarial skin lesions, and arthritis. After 3 to 4 months most patients recover completely, but some may become carriers or remain ill chronically.
hepatitis C  a viral disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, commonly occurring after transfusion or parenteral drug abuse; it frequently progresses to a chronic form that is usually asymptomatic but that may involve cirrhosis.
cholangiolitic hepatitis  cholestatic h. (1).
cholestatic hepatitis 
1. inflammation of the bile ducts of the liver associated with obstructive jaundice.
2. hepatic inflammation and cholestasis resulting from reaction to drugs such as estrogens or chlorpromazines.
hepatitis D , delta hepatitis infection with hepatitis D virus, occurring either simultaneously with or as a superinfection in hepatitis B, whose severity it may increase.
hepatitis E  a type transmitted by the oral-fecal route, usually via contaminated water; chronic infection does not occur but acute infection may be fatal in pregnant women.
enterically transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis  (ET-NANB) h. E.
hepatitis G  a post-transfusion disease caused by hepatitis G virus, ranging from asymptomatic infection to fulminant hepatitis.
infectious hepatitis  h. A.
infectious necrotic hepatitis  black disease.
lupoid hepatitis  chronic active hepatitis with autoimmune manifestations.
neonatal hepatitis  hepatitis of uncertain etiology occurring soon after birth and marked by prolonged persistent jaundice that may progress to cirrhosis.
non-A, non-B hepatitis  a syndrome of acute viral hepatitis occurring without the serologic markers of hepatitis A or B, including hepatitis C and hepatitis E.
posttransfusion hepatitis  viral hepatitis, now primarily hepatitis C, transmitted via transfusion of blood or blood products, especially multiple pooled donor products such as clotting factor concentrates.
serum hepatitis  h. B.
transfusion hepatitis  posttransfusion h.
viral hepatitis  h. A, h. B, h. C, h. D, and h. E.


n. pl. hepa·titides (-tĭt′ĭ-dēz′)
1. Inflammation of the liver, caused by infectious or toxic agents and characterized by jaundice, fever, liver enlargement, and abdominal pain.
2. Any of various types of such inflammation, especially viral hepatitis.


Etymology: Gk, hēpar + itis, inflammation
an inflammatory condition of the liver, characterized by jaundice, hepatomegaly, anorexia, abdominal and gastric discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and tea-colored urine. The condition may be caused by bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, alcohol, drugs, toxins, or transfusion of incompatible blood. It may be mild and brief or severe, fulminant, and life-threatening. The liver usually is able to regenerate its tissue, but severe hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and chronic liver dysfunction. Compare anicteric hepatitis. See also viral hepatitis.


A generic term for any type of liver inflammation.

• Viruses—HAV, HBV, hepatitis non-A, non-B (HCV, HDV, HEV, CMV), coxsackievirus, herpesvirus, EBV, measles, mumps, rubella, rubeola;
• Bacteria;
• Parasites;
• Fungi.
• Alcohol;
• Drugs;
• Chemicals and toxins;
• Hyperthermia;
• Radiation.

Clinical findings
Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, malaise, jaundice, myalgia, arthralgia, photophobia, bleeding, diathesis.
Increased transaminases (ALA, AST, GGT, BR), immunoglobulins; decreased vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors, ergo increased prothrombin time. Viral hepatitis is diagnosed by serology, measuring viral antigen(s) or antibodies formed against the antigens; non-viral hepatitides are diagnosed by history and exclusion of virus.
Acute hepatitis—no treatment (steroids, IFN-a are not recommended); chronic hepatitis—corticosteroids, IFN-a may prolong survival and improve outcomes.


Hepatology Liver inflammation Etiology-infectious HAV, HBV, hepatitis non-A, non-B–HCV, HDV, HEV, CMV, coxsackievirus, herpesvirus, EBV, measles, mumps, rubella, rubeola, bacteria, parasites, fungi Etiology-noninfectious Alcohol, drugs, chemicals and toxins, hyperthermia, radiation Clinical Anorexia, N&V, malaise, jaundice, myalgia, arthralgia, photophobia, bleeding diathesis Lab ↑ Transaminases–ALA, AST, GGT, BR, Igs, ↓ vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors, ergo ↑ prothrombin time; viral hepatitis is diagnosed by serology, measuring viral antigen(s) or antibodies formed against the antigens; non-viral hepatitides are diagnosed by history and exclusion of virus Management Acute hepatitis, no treatment–steroids, IFN-α are not recommended; chronic hepatitis–corticosteroids, IFN-α may prolong survival and improve outcomes. See Acute hepatitis, Biochemical hepatitis, Chronic hepatitis, Giant cell hepatitis, Halothane hepatitis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, Hepatitis E, Hepatitis F, Hepatitis GB, Hepatitis non-A–G, Lupoid hepatitis, Neonatal hepatitis, Non-A, non-B hepatitis.


Inflammation of the liver; usually from a viral infection, a drug, or toxic agent.
[hepat- + -itis]


a serious disorder of the liver that leads to severe jaundice, liver degeneration and even death. The condition is caused by two viruses: hepatitis A virus, which produces infective hepatitis transmitted by the intestinal-oral route, and hepatitis B virus, which produces serum hepatitis transmitted via infected blood or its products. Although these two viral types can be distinguished in tests, the acute diseases caused by each may be clinically indistinguishable, the chief difference being that type A usually has a shorter incubation period than type B. No specific therapy is available for hepatitis, although vaccines are being developed.


An inflammation of the liver, with accompanying liver cell damage or cell death, caused most frequently by viral infection, but also by certain drugs, chemicals, or poisons. May be either acute (of limited duration) or chronic (continuing). Symptoms include jaundice, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, tenderness in the right upper abdomen, aching muscles, and joint pain. In severe cases, liver failure may result.


liver inflammation due to acute or chronic viral infection Table 1
Table 1: Clinical features of viral hepatitides
Hepatitis typeClinical features
Viral hepatitis type A (HAV)The commonest form of viral hepatitis, occurring mostly in the autumn, and affecting children and young adults
Spread via the faecal-oral route, especially in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, or from the ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs
No carrier state
Causes a flu-like illness (patients show viral particles in blood and faeces); some cases progress to jaundice and 10% develop splenomegaly, lymphadenopathy and rashes
Symptoms generally clear in 3-6 weeks, and most cases recover totally; some show occasional relapses; mortality rate is 0.1%
Viral hepatitis type B (HBV)Spread via the intravenous route (transfusion of infected blood or blood products; contaminated needles; intimate personal contact [especially male homosexuals])
The carrier state is common: 300 million carriers worldwide (0.5% in UK and USA; 10-15% in Africa, Middle and Far East), with the virus occurring in body fluids Causes a subclinical infection similar to that of HAV in most cases; 25% also develop fever, rashes and small-joint polyarthritis, some develop arteritis and/or glomerulonephritis
The majority recover completely, but 1% show fulminant hepatitis; some later develop chronic hepatitis and liver cancer, or the carrier state
Viral hepatitis type C (HCV):Much more common than HBV, approximately 10 times more common than HIV, and which has been transmitted to approximately 80% of all haemophiliacs through transfusions of contaminated blood products
Most infections are asymptomatic, but 10% of cases show flu-like symptoms with jaundice, arthritis, agranulocytosis, anaemia and neurological problems 50% of cases go on to develop chronic liver disease, and of these 30% develop cirrhosis, and 15% hepatocellular carcinoma
Viral hepatitis type D (HDV):Arises as a co-infection with HBV, or as a superinfection in a case with previously quiescent HBV (the HDV is activated by the presence of the HBV), especially in intravenous drug abusers
Cases develop severe fulminant hepatitis
Viral hepatitis type E (HEV)Causes hepatitis similar to HAV
It is transmitted via infected water, causing epidemics
Mortality rate is 1-2% due to liver failure (rising to 20% in pregnant women)
No carrier state, and does not progress to chronic liver disease
Viral hepatitis type non-A, non-B (HGV)Parenteral transmission, affecting intravenous drug abusers, haemophiliacs and dialysis patients
The virus is present in 1-2% of US voluntary blood donors, and 15% of Africans 75% of cases with the virus are symptom-free, and there is no direct evidence that the presence of HGV in the blood leads to later liver infections

HIV, human immunodeficiency virus.

hepatitis (heˈ·p·tīˑ·tis),

n a family of infectious viral diseases characterized by inflammation of the liver.


Inflammation of the liver, due usually to viral infection but sometimes to toxic agents.
[hepat- + -itis]

hep·a·ti·tis, vi·ral, non-A, non-B

(NANB) (hepă-tītis, vīrăl)
Disease due to viral agents other than hepatitis viruses A or B.

hepatitis (hep´ətī´tis),

n an inflammation of the liver.
hepatitis C (Hep C, non-A, non-B hepatitis),
n a type transmitted largely by blood transfusion or percutaneous inoculation, such as with in-travenous drug users sharing needles. The disease progresses to chronic hepatitis in up to 50% of the patients acutely infected.
hepatitis, chronic active,
n a hepatitis with chronic portal inflammation with regional necrosis and fibrosis, which may progress to nodular postnecrotic cirrhosis.
hepatitis, delta (Hep D),
n a particularly virulent form caused by the delta hepatitis virus in conjunction with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is spread by contaminated needles or by direct exposure to blood or other body fluids from infected individuals. It occurs primarily in persons who have been repeatedly exposed to the HBV either through frequent blood transfusions or intravenous drug use. It may also be spread during the birthing process.
hepatitis delta virus (HDV),
n the infectious agent that causes delta hepatitis, but only in the presence of the hepatitis B virus. The virus is usually superimposed on carriers of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). It is also called the
delta agent.
hepatitis E (Hep E, epidemic non-A, non-B hepatitis),
n a self-limited type of hepatitis caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) that may occur after natural disasters because of fecal-contaminated water or food. There is currently no serologic test available.
hepatitis G,
n a viral infection of the stomach and intestines, transmitted via blood and coinfection with the hepatitis C virus. The duration of the incubation period and range of symptoms are unknown, and no vaccine is available.
hepatitis, homologous serum (homologous serum jaundice, serum hepatitis, syringe jaundice, type B hepatitis),
n a viral hepatitis clinically difficult to distinguish from epidemic infectious hepatitis. It is transmitted by human serum (that is, through parenteral injection, transfusions, lacerations). The incubation period is 40 to 90 days or longer. Principal manifestations are jaundice, gastrointestinal symptoms, anorexia, and malaise.
hepatitis, infectious (IH, type A hepatitis),
n a viral hepatitis that is frequently epidemic in nature and has an incubation period of 1 to 4 or even 7 weeks. It is usually transmitted by the virus in fecal matter but may be transmitted by human (transfusions, lacerations, needle punctures).
hepatitis, non-ABCDE,
n a viral infection of the stomach and intestines that is diagnosed by ruling out other forms of hepatitis. It may be transmitted orally, via injection, sexual contact, or fecal matter.
hepatitis, serum,
n See hepatitis, homologous serum.
hepatitis, viral,
n 1. hepatitis caused by one of three immunologically unrelated viruses: hepatitis A virus; hepatitis B virus; and non-A, non-B virus.
n 2. hepatitis caused by a viral infection, including that by Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.


inflammation of the liver which may be toxic or infectious in origin; characterized by signs due to diffuse injury to the liver. See also liver dysfunction. There are a number of etiologically specific hepatitides which are listed under their individual headings. They are avian vibrionic hepatitis, infectious canine hepatitis (see below), infectious necrotic hepatitis, duck hepatitis, turkey hepatitis, inclusion body hepatitis, mouse hepatitis, postvaccinal hepatitis, toxemic jaundice, and those caused by fasciola and fascioloides, cysticercus, and plant toxins including pyrrolizidine alkaloids, sporidesmin, aflatoxin. See also hepatosis dietetica.

hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses
causes of hepatitis in humans and some nonhuman primates.
avian vibrionic hepatitis
a disease of domesticated poultry which has disappeared from those areas in the USA which were its sole habitat. Vibrio-like organisms were isolated from the outbreaks which occurred.
cholangiolitic hepatitis
chronic active hepatitis
a chronic inflammatory liver disease in humans, probably of several types with different causes, but with distinctive histopathological features of piecemeal necrosis, bridging fibrosis and active cirrhosis. A similar, but not identical disease of unknown etiology has been described in dogs.
copper-induced hepatitis
see bedlington terrier copper-associated hepatopathy.
duck hepatitis
see duck hepatitis.
gosling hepatitis
see goose hepatitis.
infectious canine hepatitis
an acute, highly contagious disease, occurring mainly in young dogs, caused by canine adenovirus type 1. Many dogs experience subclinical infections. Those with clinical signs show fever, depression, vomiting and abdominal pain. The course is short and in severe cases death occurs within a few days. Peracute infections occur in very young puppies. Mild infections may cause only vague signs of malaise and anorexia and many cases are not diagnosed. Dogs recovering from infection sometimes develop corneal edema ('blue eye'). A chronic hepatitis is reported as an occasional sequela. The disease can be prevented by vaccination.
mouse hepatitis
a coronavirus disease which causes heavy losses in baby mice. It is characterized by tremor, jaundice and hemoglobinuria.
mycotic hepatitis
commonly caused in cattle by extension from mycotic rumenitis due to lactic acid indigestion and damage to ruminal epithelium.
necrotic hepatitis
see infectious necrotic hepatitis.
porcine hepatitis E virus
an enteric virus of pigs related to human hepatitis E that is not known to be pathogenic.
toxipathic hepatitis
hepatitis caused by toxins, especially ingested plant toxins, e.g. some pyrrolizidine alkaloids, sporidesmin, aflatoxin.
trophopathic hepatitis
see trophopathic hepatitis.
turkey hepatitis
see turkey hepatitis.
hepatitis X
a hepatoxic disease of dogs and pigs caused by aflatoxins. See also mycotoxicosis.

Patient discussion about hepatitis

Q. Do I have hepatitis? I'm volunteering in a shelter for homeless people, and there are many drug addicts there. Yesterday, as I was serving them food one of the residents of the shelter (who I know to be a long term drug addict that uses heroine) coughed and expelled blood on my bare hands (apparently he had some lung disease). Do I now have hepatitis? I know that it's very common among drug addicts, and that it's transmitted through blood contact. I checked my hands and I didn't have any wounds or scratches, but I heard the virus can infect you even if you don't have any wound, is that right?

A. The chances of you getting hep c are very slim to none but my ? to you is why were you not wearing gloves to serve food ?

Q. Is Hepatitis C contagious? My Girlfriend is a carrier for Hepatitis C. She got infected from a blood transfusion as a kid. Can I catch it from her?

A. yes,through oral and sexual intercourse,dont have oral sex and wear a comdom.

Q. How Do You Become Infected With Hepatitis C? Can I get hepatitis C from touching someone with hepatitis?

A. The only way of being infected with hepatitis C virus is by blood to blood connection, for example by an infected needle, blood transfusion, mother to baby transfer during labour or sexual transmission.

More discussions about hepatitis