Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).  It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.  Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection.  Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection.  Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection.  The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.  OLS performs EIA testing for serum IgM anti-HAV to determine current or recent infections during outbreak situations.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV).  Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.  This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth.  For some people, hepatitis B is an acute, or short-term, illness but for others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection.  Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected, compared with 2%–6% of adults.  Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to serious health issues, like cirrhosis or liver cancer.  The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.  OLS performs EIA testing for several markers to determine the infection and immune status of patients. The HBV screen includes initial testing for anti-HBsAg and HBcAb markers as well as follow up tests for markers HBsAb, IgM HBcAb and confirmatory HBsAg neutralization as indicated by the results of the initial screen. This array of tests serves to pinpoint the patient’s response to exposure. OLS also provides testing for immunity to HBV by testing for the HBsAb marker.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness but for 70%–85% of people who become infected with Hepatitis C, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, even death. The majority of infected persons might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs.  OLS performs EIA testing for anti-HCV antibodies to determine current or past infections with HCV.

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