Back 27 Jul, 2022 - Health awareness | HealthPrint


By Medihelp


Hepatitis day 2022

Hepatitis day 2022

Learn the differences and how to prevent it.
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Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and is mostly caused by a viral infection.

The five main hepatitis viruses are referred to as types A, B, C, D and E, with types A, B and C being the most prevalent. These viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis but it can also be caused by toxic substances such as alcohol and drugs, some medications and certain medical conditions.

Hepatitis A

Infection with hepatitis A usually occurs when a person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. Poor personal hygiene can cause the virus to spread in public places such as restaurants and nursery schools, especially if sanitary precautions are not observed. The virus can also be spread by some types of sexual contact.

Possible symptoms of hepatitis A include diarrhoea, nausea, yellow skin or eyes (jaundice), fatigue and fever. Most people recover fully from hepatitis A and it can be prevented with a vaccine.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids. This means it can be spread from mother to child during childbirth, and also by unprotected sex. The reuse of contaminated needles can also spread the virus, which means that getting a tattoo or piercing can put you at risk of contracting the virus if equipment has not been cleaned or sterilised properly.

Some people have no symptoms during an initial infection with hepatitis B. Symptoms that can occur include poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, jaundice and fatigue. Chronic hepatitis B is a lifelong infection that can cause liver damage, liver cancer and death. It can also be prevented with a vaccine.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is mostly spread through sharing or reusing of needles to inject drugs. In some cases, it can also be spread through unsafe blood transfusions, suboptimal infection control in healthcare settings and sexual or household contact.  

Most people have no symptoms during an initial infection. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine and jaundice. There is no vaccine against hepatitis C and the best way to prevent infection is to avoid contact with contaminated blood.

Hepatitis D

Infection with the hepatitis D virus only occurs after infection with the hepatitis B virus. Simultaneous infection with both viruses can also occur.

Hepatitis D is also spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. The symptoms are the same as for other types of acute viral hepatitis infections. Vaccination against hepatitis B prevents hepatitis D co-infection.

Hepatitis E

The most common source of hepatitis E infection is drinking water that is contaminated with faeces from an infected person. Symptoms can include a mild fever, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, pain in the abdomen and fatigue. The best way to prevent infection with hepatitis E is to maintain good hygiene principles and to avoid drinking contaminated water.

Hepatitis B is preventable with safe and effective vaccines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all infants receive the complete series of the hepatitis B vaccine.

The hepatitis B vaccine is part of the South African standard child immunisation schedule and is given to children at the ages of 6, 10 and 14 weeks, with a booster at 18 months.

According to the WHO, the complete vaccine series induces immunity in more than 95% of infants, children and young adults. Protection lasts at least 20 years and is possibly lifelong.

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