Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs, alcohol use, or certain medical conditions. But in most cases, it’s caused by a virus. This is known as viral hepatitis, and the most common forms are hepatitis A, B, and C.
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the poo of an infected person and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is spread in the blood of an infected person.
It’s a common infection worldwide and is usually spread from infected pregnant women to their babies, or from child-to-child contact. In rare cases, it can be spread through unprotected sex and injecting drugs.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus and is the most common type of viral hepatitis. It’s usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person.
Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus. It only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, as it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive in the body.
Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus. The number of cases in Europe has increased in recent years and it’s now the most common cause of short-term (acute) hepatitis in the UK. The virus has been mainly associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked pork meat or offal, but also with the wild boar meat, venison and shellfish.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years.
Hepatitis caused by viruses usually is contagious, although many types of hepatitis are transferred mainly from person to person by blood-to-blood transfer, for example, individual sharing needles, acupuncture, sexual contact, and organ transplantation.