Viral Hepatitis


Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and often caused by a virus. In the United States (U.S.), the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Viral hepatitis A, B, and C are transmitted in different ways. Main transmission routes and risk factors are summarized by the CDC's ABC Table.

Viral Hepatitis Data Overview

Check out the points below for the main takeaways from this page. 

• In 2018 and 2019, New Hampshire and other states experienced an outbreak of Hepatitis A. In New Hampshire, the highest burden of disease was in people experiencing homelessness and people with substance use disorder. 

• Reported cases of acute hepatitis B in the U.S. have declined from 1990 to 2014 after routine vaccination of children was recommended. New Hampshire has seen 11 cases of Hepatitis B since 2014. 

• From 2009 to 2017, young adults 20 to 29 years of age and 30 to 39 years of age have seen a rapid increase in cases of hepatitis C, which is likely related to an increase in injection drug use. 

Hepatitis A

What is hepatitis A?

It is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people. Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Hepatitis A Outbreak

There has been a significant increase in the number of people in New Hampshire (NH) diagnosed with hepatitis A due to a nation-wide outbreak. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the HAV. It is usually transmitted from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease of the liver that often occurs as an acute infection that may or may not be identified or reported. Later, a chronic infection may develop. Chronic hepatitis B infection can be clinically treated and managed, but cannot be cured.

Hepatitis B Data Snapshot

Chronic hepatitis B infections primarily occur among persons born outside the U.S. in countries with intermediate or high rates of hepatitis B prevalence. Injection drug use is a major risk factor associated with acute hepatitis B cases. Cases of Hepatitis B in New Hampshire are relatively low. 

Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C occurs in the body as an asymptomatic acute infection and most often develops into a chronic infection. As of November 2016, hepatitis C was added to the list of infectious diseases on the NH Reportable Disease List. For the numbers and rates of reported acute hepatitis C cases by state, jurisdiction, and nationally, visit the CDC

Hepatitis C Data Snapshot

Hepatitis C is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the U.S., with an estimated 2.7 million persons living with this chronic infection. Hepatitis C cases have rapidly increased in the U.S. since 2010, with most of the cases having been associated with injection drug use. Hepatitis C is mostly seen in young adults 20 to 39 years of age, the same age group most affected by the nation’s opioid crisis (CDC). In New Hampshire, new cases of Hepatitis C have decreased 23% from 2017 to 2019. 

Health Equity & Viral Hepatitis

A person's health can be seriously impacted by their race, ethnicity, gender, income level, education, and other socioeconomic factors. In regards to viral hepatitis...

• Among Asian Americans, chronic liver disease is a leading cause of death. While the cause is not always known, some cases can be initiated by conditions such as chronic alcoholism, obesity, and exposure to hepatitis B and C viruses. Asian Americans are twice as more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B, as compared to whites (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

• 2016 surveillance shows that Asian Americans were eight times more likely to die from hepatitis B than non-Hispanic whites (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

• In 2018, African Americans were almost twice as likely to die from hepatitis C as compared to the white population (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

• In 2018, chronic liver disease was the seventh leading cause of death for all Hispanics, and the fourth leading cause of death for Hispanic men, ages 55-64 (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

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