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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.

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.


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