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Diseases » Viral Hepatitis » Contagiousness
 

Is Viral Hepatitis Contagious?

Transmission of Viral Hepatitis from Person to Person

Viral Hepatitis is considered to be contagious between people. Generally the infectious agent may be transmitted by saliva, air, cough, fecal-oral route, surfaces, blood, needles, blood transfusions, sexual contact, mother to fetus, etc.
Viral Hepatitis, although infectious, is not a genetic disease. It is not caused by a defective or abnormal gene.
The contagious disease, Viral Hepatitis, can be transmitted:

  • by sexual conduct between people.
  • from person to person by blood.
  • from the mother to her fetus.
  • from person to person by saliva, air, coughing, contact, surfaces, fecal-oral route, etc.

Discussion about Contagion of Viral Hepatitis:

There are four different types of infectious hepatitis viruses, but only three of them can spread to uninfected people: they are HBV, HCV, and HDV and can be spread in the following ways (Delta hepatitis, spread by HDV, is spread only when HBV is present through the same ways listed below):

  • Having sexual intercourse with an infected person without using a condom.

  • Sharing drug needles among users of injected street drugs.

  • Needle-stick accidents among health-care workers.

  • Mother-to-child transmission of HBV during birth.

  • Transfusions. Until recently, blood transfusions were the most frequent cause of hepatitis C. Blood banks in the United States now screen donated blood for HBV and HCV and discard any blood that appears to be infected. Therefore, the risk of acquiring hepatitis from these viruses is very low in the U.S. and in other countries where blood is similarly tested. Tests to screen blood for HBV will also screen out HDV.

  • Personal contact with an infected person. HBV, HCV, and HDV sometimes spread when household members unknowingly come in contact with virus-infected blood or body fluids--most probably through cuts and scrapes or by sharing personal items such as razors and toothbrushes. While it is possible to become infected by contact with saliva, blood and semen remain the major sources of infection.

(Source: excerpt from Hepatitis: NWHIC)

About contagion and contagiousness:

Contagion and contagiousness refers to how easily the spread of Viral Hepatitis is possible from one person to another. Other words for contagion include "infection", "infectiousness", "transmission" or "transmissability". Contagiousness has nothing to do with genetics or inheriting diseases from parents. For an overview of contagion, see Introduction to Contagion.

 

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