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Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In New Zealand, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Many people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur with an acute infection, they can appear anytime from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure. Symptoms of acute hepatitis can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Symptoms of chronic viral hepatitis can take decades to develop.

There are several types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E.  

Hepatitis A 

This form of the virus is transferred through contaminated food and water, or through contact with an affected person. 

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus attacks and damages the liver. It was common in New Zealand until a vaccine was introduced in the 1980s.

Hepatitis C 

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that causes inflammation of the liver. There are more than 50,000 people in New Zealand with the virus, although only half are estimated to be diagnosed.

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D (delta) is the least common but most severe form of viral hepatitis. It is rare in New Zealand. It is only found in people with hepatitis B. 

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis G

Auto-immune hepatitis


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