Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver – ranging in severity from A through E, and new research is suggesting F and G strains. The liver supports more than 500 roles in the human body which include vitamin and mineral storage, filtering blood, fat metabolization, metabolizing carbohydrates, and more. When the liver is infected, it cannot perform these functions as well and results in hepatitis symptoms and signs. Hepatitis is caused by various infectious (viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic organisms) and noninfectious (medications, toxins, and autoimmune disorders) causes.
There are five main hepatitis infections, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. However, new research has found F and G viruses. These seven types are of biggest concern because of the burden of sickness and death they create and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. Reference to the hepatitis viruses often occurs in an abbreviated form. For example, HDV, HEV, HFV represent hepatitis viruses D, E, and F respectively.
In my previous blog post, I discussed HAV, HBV, and HCV. Now let’s review hepatitis D, E, F, and G.
HDV, also known as “delta hepatitis,” is very uncommon in the United States because it only occurs in those who infected with HBV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis D is an incomplete virus that requires the helper role of HBV to replicate. There’s currently no vaccine or cure for hepatitis D, but it can be prevented in people who aren’t already infected with hepatitis B. Similar to other strains, HDV is contagious and spread through direct contact with body fluids.
Similar to hepatitis D, hepatitis E is uncommon in the United States. Those with HEV usually get better in a few months and are unlikely to develop long-term serious issues. Hepatitis E is spread through the stool of someone who has the virus. For example, HEV is more common in parts of the world with poor handwashing habits and lack of clean water. HEV can also spread by consuming undercooked meat from infected animals.
Hepatitis F & G
While HFV and HGV are still being researched, some medical professionals believe there are seven strains of hepatitis. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the Hepatitis F virus was hypothesized when it was believed that a virus isolated from rare blood samples was able to cause hepatitis. However, further studies have failed to confirm the existence of this virus. Additionally, research has demonstrated that HGV-infection is a blood transfusion and parenterally transmitted disease. HGV is also known as GBV-C because HGV and GB virus-C were found about the same time, and are considered to be separate strains of the same virus. Infected blood spreads HGV but there is little evidence that hepatitis G causes severe liver damage.
Mitra Rangarajan is an expert in the healthcare field and strives to empower patients to take charge of their health and safety. Read more on her patient safety research here!