Hepatitis, Everything from A to E
How is hepatitis infection spread?

Hepatitis A virus is excreted in the feces. Infected people can spread the virus by neglecting to wash their hands after eliminating solid body waste. The virus may be passed along when these individuals handle food or other items that are placed in the mouth. Hepatitis A virus also can be spread through direct contact with infected people. In addition, hepatitis epidemics occur when drinking water or food (including raw or steamed clams, oysters or mussels) has been contaminated by hepatitis A virus.

Hepatitis B virus is found in all body fluids of infected people, including blood, semen, saliva and urine. The principle ways of spreading the hepatitis B virus include intimate contact with infected people or exposure to body fluids from these individuals. Piercing of the skin by contaminated instruments such as those used for tattooing, ear piercing, acupuncture, and dental or medical procedures poses a serious risk of passing hepatitis B virus to others. This disease also can be spread when illicit drug users share equipment. In addition, hepatitis B virus may be transmitted sexually, when contaminated body fluids come into contact with mucous membranes or tiny breaks in the skin. Hepatitis B may also be transmitted to infants born to women who are highly infectious at the time of delivery. These infants have an 80 percent to 90 percent chance of developing hepatitis; most become lifetime carriers of hepatitis B virus, unless their mothers are identified prior to delivery and infants are subsequently treated at birth.