Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver. There are several types:
Hepatitis A is most often spread by unclean food or water. Symptoms may range from an absence of symptoms to fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Symptoms usually last less than 2 months; a few persons are ill for as long as 6 months. The average incubation period for hepatitis A is 28 days (range: 15-50 days).
Hepatitis B is much more common and much more easily spread than the AIDS virus. It infects about one out of twenty people in the United States and Canada at some point in their lives.
Hepatitis B is commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected individual, by blood transfusion from contaminated blood, from mother to newborn at birth, or by sharing a needle with an infected individual.
Symptoms vary. But it's main effect is damage to the liver (like cirrhosis). more than 5,000 people die from it each year.
There is no cure for Hepatitis B, but there is a vaccine to prevent you from contracting it.
Hepatitis C (previously known as 'non-A, non-B Hepatitis' accounts for 90% of the hepatitis transmitted through blood transfusions. It may possibly spread by sexual interaction or sharing needles with infected individuals. Hepatitis C may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Hepatitis D (the so-called 'Delta virus') occurs mostly in people who take illegal intravenous drugs. Only people who already have Hepatitis B develop symptoms with this virus.
Because Hepatitis may be spread, it is an important part of the podiatric field--indeed, any field in medicine, to understand the disease and know how it may affect treatment. For example, many drugs cannot be used in patients with liver damage associated with Hepatitis.
It is also important for any health care worker to know proper technique to prevent the spread of the disease.