Hepatitis D is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis B and much like hepatitis C. See risk factors. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis D directly, be proactive and receive the vaccine for hepatitis B to reduce your chances of infection with Hepatitis D.
There are 5 types of hepatitis, A, B, C, D, and E. The most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis D and E are not as prevalent in the United States but can certainly occur.
More cases of hepatitis D are reported in:
- South America
- West Africa
- Pacific Islands
- Central Asia
Hepatitis D spreads the same way hepatitis B spreads, through contact with infected blood or an infected person’s body fluids. The hepatitis D virus can cause an acute (short term-less than 6 months) or lead to a chronic infection (long-lasting). Hepatitis D can lead to severe scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, risk of liver cancer, and other extrahepatic conditions.
Additional Transmission Risks:
- Contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluid, and urine.
- If you’ve had a blood or blood type transfusion or organ transplant prior to July 1992.
- Received a clotting factor made before 1987.
- Ever had hemodialysis.
- Contaminated needle stick or blood in a hospital or healthcare environment.
- Shared needles or other equipment to inject drugs or inhales drugs (even once).
- Tattoos or body piercing with reused unsterile tools.
- Have ever worked or been housed in prison.
- Have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
- Unexplained liver problems or inflammation, including abnormal liver tests
- Shared razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers with someone who is infected
- Born to an infected Mother
- Multiple sex partners or sex with partners who have other sexually transmitted diseases, or rough sex.
- High risk includes men who have sex with other men
- Some people who do not have risk factors may never know where they contracted the virus.
Symptoms do not always show up right away with hepatitis D even though the patient may have a chronic infection. Symptoms are much like that of hepatitis B and can include:
- Yellowing of skin and eyes, called jaundice
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark Urine
Currently, there is no treatment for hepatitis D. Antiviral treatment has shown very little effect to treat or clear the virus. Being monitored by a liver specialist (hepatologist or gastroenterologist) is recommended.
The hepatitis B vaccine will help prevent hepatitis D. The vaccine can also be given to infants and children at risk for hepatitis B and D.
This entry was originally published in Life Beyond Hep C, and is reprinted with permission.