Livingston County will be closed on Monday, May 27th in honor of Memorial Day.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is an important organ in the body that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, it doesn’t function as well as it does when healthy. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Hepatitis A

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, short-term liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. People who get hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months but usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

Not everyone with hepatitis A has symptoms. Adults are more likely to have symptoms than children. If symptoms develop, they usually appear 2 to 7 weeks after infection. Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be sick for as long as 6 months.

If symptoms develop, they can include:

  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Upset stomach or throwing up
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Dark urine or light- colored stools (poop)
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling tired

A person with or without symptoms can spread hepatitis A to others.

How does hepatitis A spread?

The hepatitis A virus is found in the blood and stool (poop) of people who are infected. Hepatitis A spreads through close contact with an infected person, such as:

  • Sexual contact
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • Using drugs with others
  • Consuming food or drink that has been handled by someone with hepatitis A

How can hepatitis A be prevented?

The spread of hepatitis A can be prevented by:

  • Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A, as recommended by CDC and your doctor
  • Avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs and sharing contaminated needles
  • Using condoms or dental dams during sexual activity
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and before handling food

Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. Some people with hepatitis B are sick for only a few weeks (known as “acute” infection), but for others, the disease becomes a serious, lifelong illness known as “chronic” hepatitis B.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

Acute (short-term) hepatitis B does not always cause symptoms. If a person has symptoms, they begin an average of 90 days (or 3 months) after exposure to the virus, but they can appear any time between 8 weeks and 5 months after exposure.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B can include:

  • Fever
  • Feeling tired
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Upset stomach or throwing up
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool (poop)
  • Joint pain
  • Yellow skin or eyes

Most people with chronic (long-term) hepatitis B do not have symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they are similar to the symptoms of a new infection. Over time, chronic hepatitis B can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, liver cancer, and even death.

A person with or without symptoms can spread hepatitis B to others

How does hepatitis B spread?

The hepatitis B virus is found in blood, semen, and other body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis B is spread when body fluids from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis B can be spread through:

  • Birth
  • Having sex with a partner who has hepatitis B
  • Sharing contaminated needles, syringes, razors, or medical equipment with a person who has hepatitis B
  • Direct contact with the blood of a person who has hepatitis B

How can hepatitis B be prevented?

The spread of hepatitis B can be prevented by:

  • Getting vaccinated against hepatitis B, as recommended by CDC and your doctor
  • Avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs and sharing contaminated needles
  • Using condoms or dental dams during sexual activity

Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, long-term illness. Hepatitis C is often described as “acute,” meaning a new infection, or “chronic,” meaning long-term infection.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Many people newly infected with the hepatitis C virus don’t have symptoms, don’t look or feel sick, and don’t know they are infected. For people who develop symptoms, they usually happen 2–12 weeks after exposure to the hepatitis C virus and can include:

  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Upset stomach or throwing up
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stool (poop)
  • Joint pain
  • Feeling tired

Most people with chronic (long-term) hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms or have only general symptoms like tiredness or depression. Many people eventually develop chronic liver disease, which can range from mild to severe and include cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.

A person with or without symptoms can spread hepatitis C to others

How does hepatitis C spread?

The hepatitis C virus is spread when someone comes into contact with blood from an infected person.

Hepatitis C can spread through:

  • Sharing drug-injection equipment
  • Sex with an infected person
  • Unregulated tattoos or body piercings
  • Sharing personal items
  • Birth
  • Rarely, through health care exposures, blood transfusions, or organ transplants

How can hepatitis C be prevented?

While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, the spread of hepatitis C can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs and sharing contaminated needles
  • Using condoms or dental dams during sexual activity

Hepatitis Vaccination

Hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccination. There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.

Livingston County Health Department offers hepatitis A and B vaccines. Schedule your vaccination appointment. We are also a part of the High Risk Hepatitis A & B Program. This program provides hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination to high risk adults, regardless of insurance status. An administration fee may be charged.

Who should be vaccinated for hepatitis A?

  • All children aged 12–23 months
  • All children and adolescents 2–18 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
  • People at increased risk for hepatitis A
  • Any person who requests vaccination

Who should be vaccinated for hepatitis B?

  • All infants
  • All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not been vaccinated
  • Adults aged 19 through 59 years
  • Adults aged 60 years and older with risk factors for hepatitis B

Hepatitis Testing

It is recommended that everyone get tested for hepatitis B and C at least once in their lifetime. Testing is also recommended for pregnant women and those at higher risk for hepatitis B and C infection, including people who inject or have injected drugs and people who have been exposed to the blood of an infected person. Getting tested for hepatitis C is important, because treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks.

Questions about hepatitis? Contact us at 517-552-6882.

Schedule an Appointment Online

Livingston County Health Department now offers convenient online scheduling.

Last Modified May 8, 2024

Livingston County Health Department Logo
Matt Bolang

Matt Bolang
Health Officer

Phone

(517) 546-9850

Hours

Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed County Holidays

Location

2300 E Grand River Ave
Suite 102
Howell, MI 48843

Fax

(517) 546-6995