Knowing about the different hepatitis viruses and their modes of transmission is a prerequisite to protect yourself and others against an infection. Therefore, in this chapter we have summarized some important key issues about the risks and prevention of infection. The key words on the right side will lead you to short answers on the following frequently asked questions:
Hepatitis can be transmitted through contact- and smear infection
Substances that can transmit hepatitis viruses are:
|undercooked meat (in particular wild boar, pig)||x|
|vegetables exposed to faeces (e.g. salad)||x||x|
|seafood (e.g. mussles)||x||x|
|blood products (routine screening established in most developed countries)|
|contaminated instruments for tattooing, piercing, ear-piercing||x||x||x|
The following conditions increase the risk for an infection:
Due to contact with infected persons or procedures with a potential risk of transmission, the risk of infection is also higher in the following situations:
The current third-generation blood test systems have reduced the risk of transmission to approximately 1:100,000-300,000. Since the introduction of the HCV nucleid acid test in Germany in April 1999, the risk of being infected by HCV-contaminated blood or blood product infusions is estimated to be < 1x1005
Viral hepatitis is not accompanied by specific symptoms except in case of jaundice; in most cases however an acute hepatitis occurs without jaundice.
Persons at high risk are:
There are various possibilities to prevent an infection with hepatitis viruses:
Vaccines are available against HAV and against HBV (which is also effective against HDV).
A vaccination against HBV is recommended for all children and adolescents.
Travellers to high-endemic areas are recommended to be vaccinated against both HAV and HBV. A vaccine against HEV is only approved in China.