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Depending on the type of hepatitis virus, there are different ways that people can acquire hepatitis. In the United States, the main ways that people contract hepatitis are:
The hepatitis A virus is excreted in feces and transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water. An infected person can transmit hepatitis to others if they do not take strict sanitary precautions, such as thoroughly washing hands before food preparation
People can become infected with hepatitis A by:
People at high risk for hepatitis A infection include:
The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. Situations that can cause hepatitis B transmission include:
The CDC recommends routine testing for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection for the following high risk groups:
Other people at high risk for hepatitis B virus infection include:
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted by contact with infected human blood.
People at high risk for hepatitis C include:
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Centers for Disease Controland Prevention (CDC). Update: Prevention of hepatitis A after exposure to hepatitis A virus and in international travelers. Updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Oct 19;56(41):1080-4.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Hepatitis A vaccine recommendations. Pediatrics. 2007 Jul;120(1):189-99.
Dienstag JL. Hepatitis B virus infection. N Engl J Med. 2008 Oct 2;359(14):1486-500.
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Lok ASF and McMahon BJ. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Practice Guidelines: Chronic Hepatitis B. Hepatology. 2007;2:507 -539.
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Mukherjee S, Sorrell MF. Controversies in liver transplantation for hepatitis C. Gastroenterology. 2008 May;134(6):1777-88.
National Institutes of Health. Consensus Development Conference Statement: Management of Hepatitis B. October 20 -22, 2008.
Pungpapong S, Kim WR, Poterucha JJ. Natural history of hepatitis B virus infection: an update for clinicians. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Aug;82(8):967-75.
Rambaldi A, Jacobs BP, Gluud C. Milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C virus liver diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD003620.
Scott JD, Gretch DR. Molecular diagnostics of hepatitis C virus infection: a systematic review. JAMA. 2007 Feb 21;297(7):724-32.
Victor JC, Monto AS, Surdina TY, Suleimenova SZ, Vaughan G, Nainan OV, et al. Hepatitis A vaccine versus immune globulin for postexposure prophylaxis. N Engl J Med. 2007 Oct 25;357(17):1685-94. Epub 2007 Oct 18.
Weinbaum CM, Williams I, Mast EE, Wang SA, Finelli L, Wasley A, et al. Recommendations for identification and public health management of persons with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2008 Sep 19;57(RR-8):1-20
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