How many classes of hepatitis virus are there and how are they different?

06 December 2009

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Question

How many classes of hepatitis virus are there and how are they different?

Answer

We put this to Graeme Alexander:Graeme - Well a lot of viruses can affect the liver, but there's five that we recognize as important in the liver and they're HepatitisA, B, C, D, and E - rather imaginative aren't we?The most important thing about hepatitis C is that it, by and large causes an infection that lasts for a lifetime while the other viruses don't (usually). So that differentiates it quite easily. And it's an RNA virus whereas hepatitis B is a DNA virus infection. But that's sort of a semantic difference. The important thing about hepatitis C is that it causes lifelong infection in many people.

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