Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by viruses, toxic substances or immunological abnormalities.
• Hepatitis A - this is highly contagious and is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. It is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food, water or milk. The incubation period is from 15 to 45 days.
• Hepatitis B — this is also known as serum hepatitis and is more serious than hepatitis A. It lasts longer and can lead to cirrhosis, cancer of the liver and a carrier state. It has a long incubation period of one and a half to two months. The symptoms may last from weeks to months. The virus is usually transmitted through infected blood, serum or plasma, however it can spread by oral or sexual contact as it is present in most body secretions.
• Hepatitis C - this can cause acute or chronic hepatitis and can also lead to a carrier state and liver cancer. It is transmitted through blood transfusions or exposure to blood products.
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