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The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. This can be caused by a number of things, such as chemicals, alcohol, drugs and infection by viruses.
The symptoms of acute viral hepatitis include fever, headache, lethargy, nausea, dark urine, pale stools and jaundice. The most commonly encountered viral hepatitis are type A, type B and type C.
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It is spread by direct contact or by touching items that have been handled by, and contaminated with faeces from, an infected person. These can include food, drinks and other objects.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can lead to serious illness or death. It is transmitted in several ways, including through unsafe sex and using other people’s needles. It can be passed from an infected mother to her baby. You can be immunised against hepatitis B.
Most people recover completely, but it can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, increased risk of liver cancer and, in extreme cases, death. It is passed on by carriers who may not even know they have the virus.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which causes inflammation of the liver. It is most often transmitted through sharing needles, syringes and other equipment during drug use. There is currently no cure for hepatitis C and no vaccine to prevent it.
Click here to open a PDF document on “An overview of Heptatitis A, B and C from Hepatitis C Council of NSW.