Hepatitis can be caused by many different things including viral infections, parasites, bacteria, chemicals, autoimmunity, drugs or alcohol. Of these, viral infection is the most common cause of chronic (long-term) hepatitis, which can lead to severe liver damage including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Five types of viral hepatitis are currently known – hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, of which A, B and C are the most common (Table 1). Hepatitis F and G also exist, although there is still some debate over whether these types are actually viral infections.
|Hepatitis A virus||Hepatitis B virus||Hepatitis C virus|
|Route of spread||Faecal-oral||Bodily fluids, inculding blood,
|Clinical course||Acute||Acute & chronic||Acute & chronic|
|Immunisation||Vaccine available||Vaccine available||No vaccine available|