What is Hepatitis D Virus?
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) causes hepatitis D or delta hepatitis. HDV is only found in people who carry the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HDV is transmitted through skin; tattooing or body piercing, sexually or through contact with infected blood or blood products. Chronic HBV carriers are at a risk for infection with HDV. Promiscuous homosexual and heterosexual individuals, people exposed to blood or blood products, haemophiliacs, people with clotting factor disorders, are all at a greater risk of infection.
HDV makes the symptoms of hepatitis B more severe. The symptoms include abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and joint pain.
Diagnosis of hepatitis D is confirmed by blood tests showing HBsAg positive or with evidence of recent HBV infection. Serologic tests for the virus, anti delta agent antibodies, liver biopsy and liver enzymes help diagnose hepatitis D.
Chronic HBV carriers if infected with HDV can cause fulminant acute hepatitis or severe chronic active hepatitis, often progressing to cirrhosis. Chronic hepatitis D may also lead to the development of liver cancer.
As such there is no treatment for hepatitis D. Yet disease conditions may improve with administration of anti-viral medications such as interferon. Liver transplantation may be an effective choice for acute and end-stage chronic hepatitis D.
All measures aimed at preventing the transmission of HBV will prevent the transmission of hepatitis D. Prompt recognition and treatment of hepatitis B infection can help prevent hepatitis D. Hepatitis B immunoglobulin and vaccine does not protect HBV carriers from infection by HDV. Avoid exposure to infected blood, contaminated needles, and an infected person’s personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail cutters.
Same as for hepatitis B. Avoid alcohol consumption and medications that may cause liver damage. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. Try eating small meals if you have nausea. Soft diet and easy to digest foods such as soup, broth, boiled or baked potato are good. Be sure to get regular exercise and enough sleep.