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Hepatitis for the Correctional Nurse

Hepatitis, a general term referring to inflammation of the liver, may result from various causes, both infectious (viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic organisms) and non-infectious (alcohol, drugs, autoimmunediseases, and metabolic diseases).  This class will focus on viral hepatitis, which accounts for more than 50% of cases of acute hepatitis in the United States presenting primarily in the emergency department setting.

In the United States, viral hepatitis is most commonly caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). These three viruses can all result in acute disease with symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, malaise, and jaundice.   Additionally, acute infection with HBV and HCV can lead to chronic infection. Patients who are chronically infected may go on to develop cirrhosis and hepatocellularcarcinoma.  Chronic hepatitis carriers remain infectious and may transmit the disease for many years.

In this class, we will discuss the most common types of viral hepatitis seen in the correctional environment – A, B, and C.  We will also describe Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E, two infections that are not predominant in the United States, but are found in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Northern and Southern Europe and Central America.