Topics covered in this snack-sized chapter:
Hepatitis D, which is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), is a disease that infects the liver.
It's similar to the other hepatotropic viruses because it causes liver inflammation and produces similar symptoms, but HDV is unusual.
It can only infect someone who has hepatitis B because it's a "defective virus."
HDV doesn't have the necessary viral equipment to replicate itself, so to get around this problem; HDV depends on the hepatitis B virus (HBV) for replication, which is the process of making copies of itself.
Hepatitis D includes following symptoms:
There are many ways to contact HDV (hepatitis D Virus). Some include:
Hepatitis D can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and other body fluids of infected persons.
Transmission happens when infected body fluid enters another person's body, but hepatitis D will not remain in the body unless hepatitis
B is also present.
The virus is most commonly transmitted in the same ways that hepatitis B is transmitted:
- Using intravenous (IV) drugs/ contaminated needles
- Sex with an infected partner
- Contact with the blood of an infected person
- Sharing of needles, syringes, razors, or toothbrushes with an infected person
Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis D, an effective vaccine does exist for hepatitis B.
Since hepatitis D cannot survive without hepatitis B, getting vaccinated against hepatitis B will protect you from both strains.
However, the hepatitis B vaccine is only effective at preventing co-infection, not super-infection.
If you already have hepatitis B, other prevention strategies will help you avoid hepatitis D.
You can prevent hepatitis D and other blood-borne illnesses like hepatitis C and HIV by avoiding these high-risk behaviors:
- Maternal-infant transmission during childbirth
- Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia
Although many people who are exposed to hepatitis D are able to get rid of the virus, some people can develop chronic hepatitis D.
This may lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and even death.
There are no drugs that are approved to treat a chronic hepatitis D infection.
There is some indication that certain medicines used to treat hepatitis B may be effective against hepatitis D.
Among these medicines are alpha interferon and pegylated alpha interferon.
However, there is no consensus on how much of these medicines should be used and for how long.
It is also not known if these medicines change the natural course of the disease.
For people with severe liver disease caused by hepatitis D, liver transplantation has been shown to be effective.
- Sharing personal care items with a person who has hepatitis D, especially those items that may have trace elements of blood on them, such as razors or toothbrushes
In fact, the prognosis for liver transplantation in people with hepatitis D is better than the prognosis for liver transplantation in people who have hepatitis B without hepatitis D.
- Hepatitis D does return in a person who has had a liver transplant, liver injury is usually limited.