Hepatitis D is a disease caused by the hepatitis D virus which can cause liver inflammation. It is also known as the Hepatitis Delta Virus (HDV). Unlike hepatitis C, it is a RNA virus that needs the hepatitis B virus for it to replicate. Hepatitis D is closely associated with Hepatitis B in that the HDV occurs simultaneously and alongside the HBV.
The HDV results in a very severe form of Hepatitis that attacks only humans. It is a disease that can only affect people who have previously contracted Hepatitis B. Normally, hepatitis usually doesn’t exhibit any symptoms.
When these two viruses hit the liver, it can cause severe life-threatening problems to the liver. It is very important to avoid these combination; in fact, if possible, they should be avoided and prevented like a plague.
There are a few facts that one needs to know about this very dependent but quite dangerous disease. They include:
- If you are infected with the hepatitis B virus and you are then infected with the hepatitis D virus at the same time, this kind of infection is called a co-infection.
- If you were already infected with a chronic strain of Hepatitis B virus and then you become exposed and infected with Hepatitis D, this kind of infection is called a super infection.
- Primarily, hepatitis D is transmitted via blood.
- Mostly Hepatitis D is seen in the form of super infection and it causes more severe complications even much more severe than the one posed by Chronic Hepatitis B.
- Most of those who develop the super infection will more often than not develop liver scarring also known as liver cirrhosis.
- The symptoms of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D are so much alike, and it is difficult to tell them apart.
- The infection is a very contagious one which can easily be gotten through blood and body fluids through direct contact with an infected person.
- Once you have the Hepatitis D virus, there is every possibility that you can infect another person without you even knowing or even before you start showing or exhibiting symptoms.
- It is very rare for this infection to be transmitted from mother to child
- There is no vaccine for hepatitis D but there is a vaccine for Hepatitis B and then getting vaccinated against hepatitis B will keep you inoculated against these two strains of hepatitis.
- When having a co-infection, the symptoms of D aren’t as severe as when a super infection is in place.
- Symptoms always occur between one to two months of exposure and it can go from being acute to chronic based on the type of Hepatitis B virus it depends on.
- Symptoms that will be exhibited include jaundice, fatigue, dark urine and discoloration of stools.
- Usually, after the initial infection, I.e. after an acute infection, there is a tendency that the infection will take care of itself. It’s only in very rare cases will you see an acute infection become a chronic infection.
- When a person is infected with hepatitis D, early diagnosis goes a long way in preventing serious liver diseases and ultimately liver failure.
- Hepatitis D can only be prevented and cannot be completely treated.
- To prevent hepatitis D, one can get the vaccinated for hepatitis B most especially for children. Adults who are at open risk for this disease should also be administered hepatitis B vaccination which spans over a couple of months.
- One should always ensure that he or she should practice safe sex by being protected always by a condom when having multiple sexual partners. For those who have a single partner, ensure that you and your partner get tested.
- Avoid the use of hard drugs (recreational drugs) and also avoid the sharing of used needles which are not sterilized.
- Be very careful about where you get your tattoos and piercings. Ensure that the needles and sharp objects used for this process are properly sterilized and properly disinfected so as to avoid hepatitis D.
- Interferon is a treatment that appropriately combats hepatitis D. Although it might not completely cure it, but it can cause it to go into remission when it’s administered in very high doses.
- In a situation where the patients liver gets severely damages, a new liver is needed for liver transplant for the patient. This means that if the disease gets to the chronic stage, the person will need to undergo a liver transplant for a better function of life.
- Compared to other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis D has a 90% chance of causing fulminant hepatitis which can be very sudden and quite severe. Fulminant hepatitis is a very rare form of hepatitis, but it can be very severe and can cause much complications.
- It is so severe to the extent that 80% of people who are suffering from fulminant hepatitis don’t survive it and they die in a very short period of time.
Prevention of this disease is the only best method for this disease. It is better avoided than treated.