MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Hepatitis D

By

Sonal Kumar

, MD, MPH, Weill Cornell Medical College

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
Click here for the Professional Version

Hepatitis D virus is infection of the liver that occurs only in people who have hepatitis B.

  • Hepatitis D can be spread by contact with blood and other body fluids.

  • Coinfection with hepatitis D usually makes symptoms of hepatitis B worse.

  • Doctors diagnose chronic hepatitis D based on blood tests.

  • There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis D, but chronic hepatitis D may be treated with interferon alfa.

Hepatitis D is relatively rare in the United States. It can be an acute infection, lasting only a short time, or a chronic infection, lasting more than 6 months.

Worldwide, about 15 to 20 million people have chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis D coinfection.

Transmission of hepatitis D

Hepatitis D can be spread by contact with blood and other body fluids. Hepatitis D is most often spread when people share unsterilized needles to inject illicit drugs. It can also be spread through sexual activity.

Symptoms of Hepatitis D

Coinfection with hepatitis D usually makes the hepatitis B infection more severe.

Coinfection with hepatitis B and D can lead to fulminant hepatitis Acute viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by infection with one of the five hepatitis viruses. In most people, the inflammation begins suddenly and lasts only a few weeks. Symptoms... read more (a very severe form of hepatitis). Fulminant hepatitis can progress very quickly. Toxic substances normally removed by the liver build up in the blood and reach the brain, causing hepatic (portosystemic) encephalopathy Hepatic Encephalopathy Hepatic encephalopathy is deterioration of brain function that occurs in people with severe liver disease because toxic substances normally removed by the liver build up in the blood and reach... read more . People may lapse into a coma within days to weeks. Fulminant hepatitis may be fatal, especially in adults.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis D

  • Blood tests

Doctors may suspect hepatitis D when

If hepatitis D is suspected, a blood test to detect antibodies produced by the person's immune system in response to the hepatitis virus D is done to confirm the diagnosis.

Prevention of Hepatitis D

Avoiding high-risk behavior (such as sharing needles to inject drugs and having several sex partners) helps prevent people from getting hepatitis B and thus from getting hepatitis D.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis D. But if people do not already have hepatitis B, they can be vaccinated with the hepatitis B vaccine Hepatitis B Vaccine The hepatitis B vaccine helps protect against hepatitis B and its complications (chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer). Generally, hepatitis B is more serious than hepatitis A and... read more , which can prevent hepatitis D as well as hepatitis B.

Treatment of Hepatitis D

  • General measures

  • Interferon alfa (an antiviral drug)

People with hepatitis D should not drink alcohol because it can damage the liver further. There is no need to avoid certain foods or limit activity.

There is no specific treatment for acute viral hepatitis, including hepatitis D.

Chronic hepatitis D may be treated with interferon alfa, usually for 1 year.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Test your knowledge

Jaundice in Adluts
Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and white parts of the eyes appear yellow. It occurs when there is too much bilirubin, a yellow waste product, in the blood. Which of the following is NOT a common cause of jaundice?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP