In old Westerns, when a character accused another of "being yellow," it was an accusation of cowardice. In the real world, however, being yellow might be a sign you've developed a form of hepatitis -- a viral infection that attacks the liver, the important organ that aids digestion, filters the blood, and performs a host of other body processes. In this article, we will discuss hepatitis A and E, hepatitis B and D, and hepatitis C.
Preventing Hepatitis A and E. Hepatitis A and hepatitis E are short-term infections that go away without treatment. Once you've had one of these infections, you cannot be infected again. Hepatitis A and E infections often have no symptoms. The viruses that cause Hepatitis A and E are found in the feces of an infected person and are often spread through poor hygiene.
Preventing Hepatitis B and DThe viruses that cause hepatitis B and D are spread by contact with infected blood and certain other body fluids. Like other hepatitis infections, hepatitis B and D attack the liver and can sometimes cause serious long-term damage. Chronic hepatitis can put you at risk for other diseases, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. A hepatitis B vaccination can protect you from infection.
Preventing Hepatitis C HCV, the virus that causes hepatitis C, is primarily spread by blood-to-blood contact. Hepatitis C is the most dangerous form of viral hepatitis and is most likely to cause chronic infection -- 55 percent to 85 percent of those infected with HCV will end up with chronic hepatitis C. However, most people who are infected with hepatitis C show no sypmtoms and thus might not know they're infected.
Preventing Hepatitis A and E
Hepatitis A and E Infection Information
As with other hepatitis viruses, these germs specifically attack the liver, inflaming it and causing it to swell. Both HAV and HEV infections can cause jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin; also called icterus), abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and fatigue, but either can occur without jaundice (so-called anicteric hepatitis), as well.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis E are short-term infections that go away without treatment, and once you have recovered from them, you can't get them again. The infections often have no symptoms.
HAV and HEV are found in the feces of an infected person and are often spread through inadequately sanitized water supplies. Both viruses can also be transmitted when an infected person skips washing his or her hands after using the restroom and then handles food or eating utensils.
Who's at Risk for Hepatitis A and E?
In the developing world, 100 percent of people have been infected with HAV by the age of 10 because of the lack of adequate sanitation and sewage systems; in the developed world, as much as 50 percent of the population has had hepatitis A by the age of 50.
High-risk groups for HAV infection include people who live with an HAV-infected person, people who have had with an HAV-infected person, ually active homoual men, people with hemophilia or other blood-clotting problems, people with liver disease, users, travelers to countries where HAV is prevalent (information is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travelers' Health Web site, www.cdc.gov/travel), and those living in areas of the world with ongoing outbreaks (visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/a/index.htm for more information).
Hepatitis E is not prevalent in the United States, but travelers to countries with inadequate water sanitation systems can run into this infection. Pregnant women, especially those in their third trimester, are at greatest risk for experiencing severe complications from HEV infection. In addition, recent information has suggested that HEV can be transmitted to people through contact with animal hosts, such as pigs. Read further...