Hepatitis A, B and C

Last updated: July 28, 2022

The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis symptoms include light stools or dark urine, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and yellow skin or eyes. However, some people don’t experience any symptoms.

On this page:


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is usually spread from person to person through fecal-oral transmission. This transmission can occur by putting something in the mouth that is contaminated with stool from a person with hepatitis A or by ingesting contaminated food or water. The incubation period is 15-50 days. Hepatitis A vaccination is the most effective measure to prevent HAV infection. The vaccination is recommended for all children at age 1, certain international travelers and others at risk for HAV infection.

Prevention:

  • Get vaccinated with hepatitis A vaccine.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
  • Wash hands before and after preparing food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Cook and steam shellfish properly.

Your risk for hepatitis A is increased if you:

  • Live with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Have sex with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Are a man who has sex with men.
  • Are an injecting or non-injecting drug user.
  • Are a native of another country or traveling outside the United States.
  • Are working in or have a child in day care.
  • Have chronic liver disease or a clotting factor disease (hemophilia).

Click here for more information about hepatitis A.


Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious contagious liver infection caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV infection can cause acute illness and lead to chronic or lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and death. HBV is spread by direct contact with blood or body fluids (i.e., semen, vaginal fluids) from a hepatitis B-infected person.

The incubation period is 45-160 days. Hepatitis B vaccination is the most effective measure to prevent HBV infection and its consequences. The vaccination is recommended for all infants and others at risk for HBV infection.

Prevention:

  • Practice safe sex; use a condom or barrier.
  • Get vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Don’t share razors, toothbrushes or needles.
  • Health care workers should follow standard precautions.

Your risk for hepatitis B is increased if you:

  • Live with someone who has hepatitis B.
  • Have sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis B.
  • Share needles, syringes or tattoo and body-piercing tools.
  • Are a man who has sex with men.
  • Have multiple sex partners.
  • Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Were born to a mother infected with hepatitis B.
  • Are a native of, have a parent from, or traveled to areas where hepatitis B is widespread (Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia, parts of the Middle East, Alaska and extreme northern Canada, southern Greenland and the Amazon region).
  • Work in a health care setting where you may be exposed to hepatitis B-positive blood.
  • Are on kidney dialysis.
  • Share personal items, such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers, with a person who has hepatitis B.

Click here for more information about hepatitis B.


Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a silent, chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis (scarring), liver failure, liver cancer and death. Chronic HCV infection develops in a majority of HCV-infected persons because most do not show symptoms and do not know they are infected. The incubation period is 14-180 days. HCV is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. Treatment for HCV is complex and needs to be evaluated by an experienced physician.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Prevention:

  • Practice safe sex; use a condom or barrier.
  • Get vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Don’t share razors, toothbrushes or needles.
  • Health care workers should follow standard precautions.

Your risk for hepatitis C is increased if you:

  • Share needles, syringes or tattoo and body-piercing tools.
  • Were born to a hepatitis C-infected mother.
  • Work in a health care setting where you may be exposed to hepatitis C-positive blood.
  • Received a blood/blood product transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992.
  • Are a kidney dialysis patient.
  • Have sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis C.
  • Share personal items, such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers, with a person who has hepatitis C.

Click here for more information about hepatitis C.


Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are available for children who are uninsured, under-insured or have Medical Assistance.

Glen Burnie Health Center
416 A Street, S.W.
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
410-222-6633

Parole Health Center
1950 Drew Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-222-7247

Contact Us | Directory of Services | Employment Opportunities | Employees Only

Anne Arundel County Government | Maryland Department of Health | Site Use Policy and Disclaimer | ADA Notice


Anne Arundel County Department of Health | 3 Harry S. Truman Parkway Annapolis, Maryland 21401
410-222-7095 | TTY (Relay): 7-1-1 | © 2022