|Type||How it spreads||Incubation period||Becomes chronic infection||Specific treatment available|
|A||Fecal-oral contact, generally through poor hand washing||2—6 weeks||No||No specific treatment. Vaccine available.|
|B||Contaminated needles and syringes or sexual contact||2—6 months||6% of cases. Some chronic cases may progress to live failure or liver cancer||No "cure" but antiviral medications and interferon can reduce activity and progression. Vaccine available.|
|C||Contaminated needles, workplace exposure to blood, blood transfusions, intravenous drug use, tattooing and piercing, rarely by sexual activity.||2 weeks—6 months||75-85% of cases||Newer antiviral medications have cure rates up to 90%. No vaccine available.|
|D||Contaminated needles and syringes or sexual contact||2—8 weeks||Co-exists only with Hepatitis B, can become chronic||Same as Hepatitis B. No vaccine available.|
|E||Fecal-oral contact, generally through poor hand washing||3—8 weeks||No||No specific treatment. No vaccine available.|
Most people with hepatitis have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they vary widely and can resemble many other illnesses. Some symptoms include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin)
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
There is a specific blood test for each type of hepatitis. These can be performed at the Student Health Center Laboratory with orders from your medical provider and should be considered if you are demonstrating signs or symptoms of hepatitis.
Also note that it is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control Services and Prevention (CDC) that virtually all persons over the age of 18 years should be screened for Hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime, and more frequently if they fall into a higher risk category for Hepatitis C contact. Visit the CDC website for more details in regard to recommendations for Hepatitis C screening.
There are preventive vaccinations available for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. The Student Health Center offers Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations at our Immunization Clinic.
Hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended if:
- You are traveling to or working in countries with high levels of Hepatitis A. Talk to the Student Health Center Travel Clinic before you go.
- You work in a research lab with Hepatitis A or with virus-infected primates
- You live in a state, county, or community where Hepatitis A occurs at twice the national average
- You are a man who has sexual contact with other men
- You are an illegal drug user
- You have chronic liver disease
- You have a clotting-factor disorder
Hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended if:
- You are 18 or younger and have never been vaccinated
- Your behavior puts you at risk for Hepatitis B (multiple sexual partners, sharing needles with drug use)
- Your job exposes you to human blood
Most hepatitis treatment consists of supportive care:
- Anti-nausea medicines may be used if nausea and vomiting are a problem in acute Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- Rest and good nutrition are important for all individuals with hepatitis
- Eat a healthy diet. See one of our Health and Wellness dietitians for help with meal planning
- Alcohol should not be consumed during the course of the infection
Combinations of antiviral medications and newer “biologicals” may also be used for chronic infections with Hepatitis B and C. Specific recommendations are available from a medical provider regarding medications for Hepatitis B and C infections