Hepatitis D

Defining Hepatitis D

Also known as the delta virus, Hepatitis D is a viral strain that infects the liver and causes it to swell. It is not a very common illness in the US. It is one among many types of Hepatitis and it is contracted only by those who already have Hepatitis B.

What Causes Hepatitis D?

Hepatitis D usually occurs in people who are already suffering from Hepatitis B. It also occurs in patients in the later stages of a Hepatitis B infection. Hep. D is contagious and spreads to from one person to another through contact. Bodily fluids and infected blood are the media. Anyone suffering from Hepatitis D can unknowingly transmit it to others even before their symptoms manifest.

What are the Symptoms?

Since Hepatitis B and D have similar symptoms, it may be hard for doctors to diagnose which strain a patient has. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint pains
  • Little or no appetite
  • Dark colored urine
  • Fatigue

It is a known fact that Hepatitis D can cause people suffering from Hepatitis B to deteriorate physically. It can also manifest in those who don’t have any symptoms yet and infect them. Whether it is an acute and short term problem or chronic, those with Hepatitis D are at risk for developing complications. Those with Hepatitis B are more likely to suffer from chronic Hepatitis D.

Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Hepatitis C Hepatitis E Hepatitis F Hepatitis G

Hepatitis D
Source : Wikipedia

Classification and External Resources

  • Specialty - Infectious disease
  • ICD-10 - B17.0, B18.0
  • ICD-9-CM - 070.31
  • Diseases - DB 5792
  • MeSH - D003699

Hepatitis D Virus Classification

  • Group : Group V ((-)ssRNA)
  • Order : Unassigned
  • Family : Unassigned
  • Genus : Deltavirus
  • Species : Hepatitis delta virus

Hepatitis Delta Virus Delta Antigen


  • Symbol : HDV_ag
  • Pfam : PF01517
  • InterPro : IPR002506
  • SCOP : 1a92
  • SUPERFAMILY : 1a92

Available Protein Structures:

  • Pfam : structures
  • PDBsum : structure summary

How Is It Diagnosed?

The quickest way to diagnose Hepatitis B or D is through visible symptoms. In some cases, doctors may have trouble diagnosing the condition if the symptoms present themselves without overt signs of jaundice. Make sure to tell your doctor if you suspect that you have been around a person with Hepatitis B or if you have traveled to countries where Hepatitis B is common. According to information put out by the National Institutes of Health, people are at high risk of contracting the disease if:

  • They use intravenous drugs
  • A homosexual who has had sex with other men
  • You have received one or many blood transfusions

What Tests Are Available for Hepatitis D?

The quickest way to diagnose Hepatitis D is to do a blood test and check for antibodies. If they are found in the bloodstream, it means that you have been exposed to the virus. There are other methods to check for liver damage as well. A liver function test will measure the liver enzyme levels in the blood stream which will indicate the degree of stress or damage suffered by the liver.

How Is t Treated?

Currently, there are no available treatments for Hepatitis D. Research using anti-viral medications to treat Hepatitis D has proven ineffective. Some people may be given the drug Interferon for 6 to 12 months. What the medication does is to make the disease go into remission. Even after getting treated, many people still test positive for Hepatitis D.

Those who have liver damage or cirrhosis will need a transplant to survive. Liver transplantation is major surgery in which surgeons replace the damaged liver with a healthy organ donated by another person.

How Can Hepatitis D be Prevented?

The only way to avoid getting Hepatitis D is to avoid contracting Hepatitis B. There is of course a vaccine for Hepatitis B. This should be given to all children to protect them against it. Adults who are at risk of contracting Hepatitis B like drug users should get vaccinated to stave off infections.

What Precautions Should One Take?

Hepatitis D cannot survive without Hepatitis B in the body. Precautions to avoid getting sick include

  • practicing good personal hygiene
  • using condoms during sex
  • covering cuts and scrapes with gauze
  • avoid sharing needles for drug use at any cost
  • no sharing razors or tooth brushes and
  • cleaning up blood from all surfaces

Since there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis D, getting a vaccine for Hepatitis B will help ward off infections. If a person already has Hepatitis B, it will not prevent them from developing Hepatitis D.

For those planning to visit countries where Hepatitis B is common, it is a good idea to get immunized before the trip. A physician will be able to offer advice on which shots to get before a trip, based on a number of factors. Make sure to factor in enough time for all the shots as they will not be given at the same time.

Hepatitis D Virus Symptoms And Treatment