Cause

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 causes hepatitis?

Hepatitis can be caused by:

  • viruses (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, HEV)
  • substances that are toxic to the liver (alcohol, medicines, chemical products, etc.) 
  • an autoimmune disease with no clear cause.

How are the different types of hepatitis transmitted?

Hepatitis A  

Hepatitis A and E are particularly prevalent in countries with poor sanitation. 

Hepatitis B  

Hepatitis B is the most common worldwide. It is also very contagious: HBV is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV (WHO)

Hepatitis C 

Hepatitis D
Only people infected with HBV can contract hepatitis D. The co-infection with HDV and HBV can aggravate the disease but vaccinations against hepatitis B protect against the HDV infection.

Hepatitis E

  • Eating food or water contaminated by faecal matter (genotype 1)
  • Through contaminated blood (transfusion of contaminated blood products)
  • Eating raw pork products (genotype 3)


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.

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