Hepatitis D is also called HDV, delta agent, delta hepatitis or hepatitis delta. This is a complication that only affects a small amount of people already carrying the hepatitis B virus.
This is a contagious disease only to people who have hepatitis B and only if they have contact with blood, mucus or other body fluids from a person with HDV. Very rarely does a mother with hepatitis B give her fetus hepatitis B and D.
Both hepatitis B and D are preventable through vaccines for hepatitis B. Vaccines can be given at any age, including childhood. People at risk of getting hepatitis B (and therefore hepatitis D) are intravenous drug users, people who need blood transfusions and men engaging in unprotected sex with other men.
Common symptoms for hepatitis D are a worsening of hepatitis B symptoms. These include feeling weak, feeling tired all of the time, passing dark urine, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, nausea with or without vomiting, loss of appetite, joint pain similar to arthritis pain.
It is possible to carry the hepatitis B virus without having any symptoms – until hepatitis D is developed and then symptoms come on strong.
Never ignore these symptoms. If ignored, the liver could be permanently damaged to the point where it fails and a transplant is needed.
The infection known as hepatitis D is understood to be caused by HDV. Hepatitis D is very contagious and spreads via direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.
Once a person contracts hepatitis D, they can infect other people even if the infected person has not shown symptoms, as the disease is still present even when a person is asymptomatic. However, a person can only contract hepatitis D if they have already contracted hepatitis B. According to data from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, around 5% of those with hepatitis B eventually develop hepatitis D. Also, it is possible to develop hepatitis D and contract hepatitis B at the same time.
Medications useful for clearing up symptoms of hepatitis B are mostly worthless for helping clear up symptoms of hepatitis D. One medication showing promise is alpha interferon which a patient may need to take up to 1 year. Liver enzymes are also prescribed.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, 9 out of 10 patients with hepatitis D recover in 2 or 3 weeks. The unlucky 1 out of 10 patients will develop chronic hepatitis, which is difficult to treat.
A liver transplant is needed only in the worst cases where the liver is too damaged to function.
The only effective way of preventing hepatitis D is not contracting hepatitis B.