First Time User? Enroll now.
Notice of Data Security Incident
COVID-19: Vaccine information, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by an infection with a virus.
Most cases of viral hepatitis are caused by hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses. Less common causes of hepatitis are cytomegalovirus (CMV) and the Epstein-Barr virus. (This is a virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.)
A virus that causes hepatitis can be spread from one person to another.
Hepatitis B, C, and D viruses are spread when an uninfected person comes in contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid (such as menstrual blood) that's infected with one of these viruses.
Hepatitis A and E viruses are spread by contaminated food and water. They're also spread through direct contact with contaminated stool (feces). Hepatitis E also might be spread by contact with an infected pig. Hepatitis E is very rare in developed countries. Hepatitis D only occurs along with hepatitis B.
Blood tests are used to diagnose viral hepatitis. In their early stages, viruses that cause hepatitis are hard to tell apart. But within weeks after infection, blood tests can show which virus is the cause of hepatitis. (An exception is hepatitis E, for which a blood test is not widely available.)
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.