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Hepatitis

Hepatitis A Virus, Symptoms And Transmission, Prevention And Control, Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis C VirusHepatitis C and E viruses

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, a potentially life-threatening disease most frequently caused by viral infections but which may also result from liver damage caused by toxic substances such as alcohol and certain drugs. Hepatitis viruses identified to date occur in five types: hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis D (HDV), and hepatitis E (HEV). All types are potentially serious and, because clinical symptoms are similar, positive identification of the infecting strain is possible only through serologic testing (analyzing the clear, fluid portion of the blood). Symptoms may include a generalized feeling of listlessness and fatigue, perhaps including mental depression, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, dark urine and pale feces, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen (where the liver is located), and enlargement of both the liver and the spleen. Severe cases of some types of hepatitis can lead to scarring and fibrosis of the liver (cirrhosis), and even to cancer of the liver. Epidemics of liver disease were recorded as long ago as Hippocrates' time and, despite major advances in diagnosis and prevention methods over the past two decades, viral hepatitis remains one of the most serious global health problems facing humans today.

These relatively recently discovered viruses, often called non-A, non-B hepatitis, exist in more than 100 million carriers worldwide, with 175,000 new cases developing each year in the U.S. and Europe.


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