What is Hepatitis D?
Hepatitis D is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver, but it only occurs as a co-infection along with hepatitis B, or as a secondary infection in anyone who are already infected with hepatitis B.
How is Hepatitis D spread?
Like other forms of hepatitis, Hepatitis D (HDV) is spread through contact with infected blood in ways including:
- Sharing razors or toothbrushes with contaminated blood on them.
- Needlestick injuries in health care settings and other health care procedures that involve invasive procedures, such as injections
- Needles, ink and other equipment used in tattoos or body piercings having infected blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health-safety practices.
Who is at risk for Hepatitis D?
Those at risk are intravenous drug users, people who live with or have sex with a person infected with HDV and people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before 1987.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis D?
Not everyone infected with the hepatitis D virus will develop symptoms. But symptoms can include:
- extreme fatigue
- lack of appetite,
- abdominal or stomach pain,
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
Acute hepatitis D has an incubation period of 3 – 7 weeks; symptoms of fatigue, lethargy, anorexia and nausea typically last 3-7 days.
How is Hepatitis D diagnosed?
Hepatitis D can be diagnosed with a blood test, which will reveal the presence of antibodies to the hepatitis D virus.
How is Hepatitis D treated?
The drug interferon may be helpful in treating disease conditions in some patients but patients may still test positive for hepatitis D after treatment.
How can Hepatitis D be prevented?
There is no specific vaccine for hepatitis D but vaccination against HBV will prevent HDV. Other preventive measures include avoiding exposure to infected blood, contaminated needles, and an infected person’s personal items such as toothbrushes and razors.