What is viral hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis, the most common form of hepatitis, refers to inflammation of the liver that is caused by certain viruses. These viruses are mostly spread by bodily fluids, especially blood, but also by the fecal-oral route. These viruses are known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. There are also other viruses that can cause inflammation of the liver, but they are not commonly known for causing hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. Several viruses, namely, as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses, can cause viral hepatitis.

All of these viruses cause acute hepatitis and have short-term effects. The hepatitis B, C, and D viruses can also cause chronic hepatitis, in which the infection is prolonged, sometimes life-long. Chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

Researchers are looking for other viruses that may cause hepatitis, but none have been identified with certainty. Other viruses that less often affect the liver include cytomegalovirus; Epstein-Barr virus, also called infectious mononucleosis; herpesvirus; parvovirus; and adenovirus.

This answer is based on source information from  the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver, and may cause lifelong infection such as cirrhosis (scarring and dysfunction of the liver), liver cancer, liver failure and death.


Hepatitis B, a type of viral hepatitis, is a blood-borne microorganism, transmitted by exposure to the hepatitis B virus through infectious body fluids. About 1.4 million Americans have chronic hepatitis B infection, and about 350 million individuals worldwide have this disease.


Hepatitis C (once called non-A, non-B hepatitis) is a liver disease caused by a recently identified blood-borne virus discovered in 1989. This strain of acute viral hepatitis causes approximately 20,000 new infections in the U.S. each year.


Transmission of hepatitis B and hepatitis C occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.