Hepatitis is a self-limiting disease, and the majority of patients recover
spontaneously. The total illness usually lasts four to eight weeks. A favorable
prognosis in hepatitis B is less certain than in hepatitis A.
If you suspect that a soldier has hepatitis, refer him to a higher medical treatment
facility. Hepatitis patients are normally hospitalized and become a loss to the unit.
They are usually not confined to bed and normally not given special treatment. Since
these patients become fatigued easily, a high carbohydrate diet is recommended for
There are a variety of measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of
hepatitis. Note the following:
a. Personal Hygiene. Good personal hygiene helps prevent the spread of
hepatitis A. Medics should be sure that field sanitation standards are adhered to in a
field environment. Good standards for latrines, mess facilities, and personal hygiene
should be adhered to.
b. Field-Standard References. Use FM 21-10 and TM 8-9 as references for
c. Hepatitis Patients' Blood. Blood of patients with acute hepatitis must be
handled with care. Use gloves when drawing such blood from a known or suspected
hepatitis carrier. Label any specimen collected as "hepatitis." Use disposable
equipment and discard it properly.
d. Secretion Contact. Avoid contact with body secretions from known or
suspected hepatitis carriers.
e. Infectious Stools. Stools from patients with type A hepatitis are considered
infectious. Normally, the infectious period ends when the patient's liver function tests
are normal and he is discharged from the hospital. During the infectious period,
however, the hepatitis patient must have separate latrine facilities. Instruct him to wash
his hands after each use of the latrine.
f. Isolation of Patient. Isolating the hepatitis patient has been
overemphasized. Isolation does little to prevent the spread of type A hepatitis and is of
no value in preventing the spread of type B or NANB hepatitis.