Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis, A, B, C, D, E, G)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Hepatitis Pictures Slideshow: What Puts You at Risk

Quick GuideHepatitis: What Puts You at Risk

Hepatitis: What Puts You at Risk

How is viral hepatitis prevented?

Prevention of hepatitis involves measures to avoid exposure to the viruses, using immunoglobulin in the event of exposure, and vaccines. Administration of immunoglobulin is called passive protection because antibodies from patients who have had viral hepatitis are given to the patient. Vaccination is called active protection because killed viruses or non-infectious components of viruses are given to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies.

Avoidance of exposure to viruses

Prevention of viral hepatitis, like any other illness, is preferable to reliance upon treatment. Taking precautions to prevent exposure to another individual's blood (exposure to dirty needles), semen (unprotected sex), and other bodily secretions and waste (stool, vomit) will help prevent the spread of all of these viruses.

Use of immunoglobulins

Immune serum globulin (ISG) is human serum that contains antibodies to hepatitis A. ISG can be administered to prevent infection in individuals who have been exposed to hepatitis A. ISG works immediately upon administration, and the duration of protection is several months. ISG usually is given to travelers to regions of the world where there are high rates of hepatitis A infection and to close or household contacts of patients with hepatitis A infection. ISG is safe with few side effects.

Hepatitis B immune globulin or HBIG (BayHep B), is human serum that contains antibodies to hepatitis B. HBIG is made from plasma (a blood product) that is known to contain a high concentration of antibodies to the hepatitis B surface antigen. If given within 10 days of exposure to the virus, HBIG almost always is successful in preventing infection. Even if given a bit later, however, HBIG may lessen the severity of HBV infection. The protection against hepatitis B lasts for about three weeks after the HBIG is given. HBIG also is given at birth to infants born to mothers known to have hepatitis B infection. In addition, HBIG is given to individuals exposed to HBV because of sexual contact or to healthcare workers accidentally stuck by a needle known to be contaminated with blood from an infected person.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/29/2016

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