Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. From a public health point of view, the
concern is that the disease is easily transmitted, and the death rate can be high. From
a socioeconomic point of view, hepatitis can cause soldiers to lose time from work or
training. Causes of hepatitis include viruses, drugs, and chemicals including alcohol. A
primary concern of the Medical NCO should be prevention of hepatitis transmission and
loss of personnel due to the disease. Your goal must be to educate soldiers about how
to prevent getting the disease, but you must also know how to treat hepatitis.
COMMON TYPES OF HEPATITIS
There are four common types of hepatitis: type A hepatitis, type B hepatitis, non-
A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis, and chronic hepatitis. Type A hepatitis was formerly called
infectious hepatitis and short- incubation hepatitis. In the past, type B hepatitis was
known as serum hepatitis, post-transfusion hepatitis, or long-incubation hepatitis. Non-
A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis cannot be traced to either type A hepatitis or type B hepatitis.
Little is known about the virus which causes NANB. Biologically and clinically, this virus
appears similar to type B hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is made up of a number of liver
disorders that seem to be acute hepatitis on one hand but also cirrhosis on the other
hand. See paragraph 7-10 for more information on chronic hepatitis.
CAUSE OF HEPATITIS
At least three distinct viruses are responsible for hepatitis: hepatitis A virus,
hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis NANB. Actually, NANB hepatitis may be caused by more
than one virus.
Liver infections caused by other specific viruses, viruses such as the
cytomegalovirus and the yellow fever virus, will not be discussed here.
METHODS OF TRANSMISSION OF HEPATITIS
a. Type A Hepatitis. The agent which causes this type of hepatitis is a filtrable
virus; that is, a virus which is small enough to pass through a porcelain filter. There are
several modes of transmission: the fecal-oral route; contaminated food (particularly milk
or shellfish); polluted water; and, in a few sporadic cases, person-to-person contact.