Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E

There is a vaccine against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but there is no vaccine against hepatitis C. Screening for HBV and HCV is recommended for certain at-risk individuals.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The liver performs vital functions for the body such as: 

  • processing nutrients from the digestion process
  • the detoxification of toxic substances (medicines, alcohol)
  • supporting immunity.

Hepatitis is said to be “acute ” if it is recent (less than 6 months) and “chronic ” if it persists for more than 6 months.

There are several types of hepatitis. Certain types of hepatitis are easily cured, whereas others can develop into chronic illnesses with a risk of complications.

What are the different types of hepatitis?

There are 2 categories of hepatitis:

  • viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D, E)
  • non-viral hepatitis (“toxic” hepatitis linked to substances that are toxic to the liver such as alcohol and medicines and autoimmune hepatitis).

Viral hepatitis varies according to the virus concerned:

  • hepatitis A virus (HAV), the least serious
  • hepatitis B virus (HBV), the most common and the most contagious
  • hepatitis C virus (HCV), the most insidious
  • hepatitis D virus (HDV)
  • hepatitis E virus (HEV)

DID YOU KNOW? The hepatitis C virus was only discovered in 1989. Until this discovery, hepatitis C was called “non-A, non-B hepatitis”.

Summary of the types of viral hepatitis

 

Hepatitis A (and E)

Hepatitis B (and D)

Hepatitis C

Transmission

  • Ingestion of contaminated food or water
  • Sexual activity
  • Contaminated blood
  • From mother to child
  • Contaminated blood
  • Injecting drugs

Symptoms

 

  • Often asymptomatic or with a fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice
  • Often asymptomatic or fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice
  • Often asymptomatic or fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice

Complications

 

  • Cirrhosis or cancer of the liver
  • Cirrhosis or cancer of the liver

Treatment

  • No treatment
  • Medical treatment: recovery in 90% of cases
  • Medical treatment: recovery in 75% of cases

Progression

  • Spontaneous recovery: the virus disappears on its own
  • Spontaneous recovery: 10% of cases evolve into chronic hepatitis
  • 70 to 80% of cases evolve into chronic hepatitis

Prevention

  • Vaccine
  • Vaccine
  • No vaccine

In conjunction with the Laboratoire Clinique de Saint-Luc (Saint Luc Clinical Laboratory) — UCL Brussels, Sciensano hosts the National Reference Centre for the hepatitis B, C, D, and E viruses, which analyses the viral strains of hepatitis. Sciensano also carries out epidemiological surveillance of the different types of viral hepatitis in Belgium and monitors the quality of the vaccines.

QR code

QR code for this page URL

Contacts

Events

There are currently no events associated to this health topic

In the media

There are currently no media associated to this health topic