ETYM New Lat., from Greek hepa, liver + -itis.
Inflammation of the liver caused by a virus or a toxin.
Any inflammatory disease of the liver, usually caused by a virus. Other causes include alcohol, drugs, gallstones, lupus erythematous, and amebic dysentery. Symptoms include weakness, nausea, and jaundice.
Five different hepatitis viruses have been identified; A, B, C, D, and E. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is the commonest cause of viral hepatitis, responsible for up to 40% of cases worldwide. It is spread by contaminated food. Hepatitis B, or serum hepatitis, is a highly contagious disease spread by blood products or in body fluids. It often culminates in liver failure, and is also associated with liver cancer. Some 300 million people are carriers. Vaccines are available against hepatitis A and B.
Hepatitis C is mostly seen in people needing frequent transfusions. Hepatitis D, which only occurs in association with hepatitis B, is common in the Mediterranean region. Hepatitis E is endemic in india and South America.