Hepatitis has different types and subtypes. They are different viruses belonging to different families. But they do have something in common, and it is their affinity to the liver tissue. Some of them can only grow in liver cells, while others are a bit more versatile. Regardless, hepatitis viruses are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It causes acute or chronic disease depending on the virus and the patient’s defenses.
In this article, we’re reviewing hepatitis D, one of the viruses that cause acute disease. But as you will see next, it can also cause chronic infections with long-term consequences. We’re also reviewing the most important exams for hepatitis D patients, the signs and symptoms, and a glimpse of the treatment options.
What is hepatitis D?
Hepatitis D is quite different from the rest of hepatitis viruses, but it works in association with one of them. It is structurally unique, not a cousin of hepatitis B, but needs a hepatitis B infection to cause disease. It only manifests in patients already infected with hepatitis B because their viral particles are required to propagate the infection in more hepatocytes.
As a disease, it is estimated that up to 20 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis D at the same time. More recent studies apparently indicate that this number can be twofold or threefold higher than initially thought. It is more common in North Africa, the Amazon Basin, the Middle East, Southern Italy, and certain Pacific islands, especially Hauru, Samoa, and Hiue.