Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by many things, including viruses, alcohol, and drugs. The most common viruses that attack the liver are Hepatitis A, B and C.

Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with vaccinations, which you can get from your health care provider. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

Take a short online quiz to find out if you are at risk.

Hepatitis A

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A, which spreads from person to person by the fecal-oral route by means such as poor hand-washing practices, eating uncooked food prepared by an infected person, and sexual contact. Hepatitis A does not become chronic, meaning you will not remain sick over time. Once your body fights off the illness, a lifetime immunity develops.

The hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent an infection.

Hepatitis B

Anyone who comes in contact with the blood, semen, or other bodily fluids of an infected person may contract Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to child at birth. A person who develops chronic (life-long) Hepatitis B infection is at risk for developing a serious liver disease. The Hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent an infection.

Prevention for Pregnant Women

Newborns who are exposed to Hepatitis B infection have a 9 in 10 chance of developing chronic, lifelong infections that lead to deadly liver diseases. In 2013, the Snohomish County Health Department’s Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program provided case management to 141 pregnant mothers who were at risk to transmit Hepatitis B to their infants.

Our public health nurse works with doctors, hospitals, and their patients so that babies get two shots within 12 hours after birth (Hepatitis B vaccine and Hepatitis B immune globulin). After the delivery, we continue to work with doctors to ensure follow-up care is provided.

Hepatitis C

Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) and people who inject drugs are at highest risk to contract Hepatitis C. Most people infected with Hepatitis C do not know they have the disease until liver damage shows up in medical tests decades after first getting infected with the virus.

There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. A blood test can determine whether or not you are infected. Knowing your Hepatitis C status can help you to learn:

  • How to prevent spreading hepatitis to others
  • How to protect your liver from further harm
  • Whether treatment is needed or available