Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus, a virus that lives in your liver cells.
How it spreads
You cannot get hepatitis C from casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or water with someone. You can get hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood of someone who has hepatitis C.
The most common way to get hepatitis C is by sharing needles and other equipment (such as cotton, spoons, and water) used to inject illegal drugs. If you are injecting drugs, the best way to protect yourself is by not sharing needles or other equipment with others. Many cities have needle exchange programs that provide free, sterile needles so that you do not have to share needles. If you want to stop using drugs, ask your doctor or someone you trust to help you get into a drug treatment program.
Before 1992, people could get hepatitis C through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs are screened for hepatitis C, so it is now rare to get the virus this way.
In rare cases, a mother with hepatitis C spreads the virus to her baby at birth, or a health care worker is accidentally exposed to blood that is infected with hepatitis C.
Experts are not sure whether you can get hepatitis C through sexual contact. If there is a risk of getting the virus through sexual contact, it is very small. Your risk is especially low if you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship.
If you live with someone who has hepatitis C or you know someone with hepatitis C, you generally do not need to worry about getting the disease. You can help protect yourself by not sharing anything that may have blood on it, such as razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers.
Contagious and incubation periods
The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after the hepatitis C virus has entered your body, and it is any time from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Anyone who has hepatitis C can spread the virus to someone else. If testing shows you have hepatitis C, do not share needles, and keep cuts, scrapes, and blisters covered.
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus (hepatitis A virus, or HAV) that multiplies in liver cells and is shed in stool.
How HAV is spread
Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (feces) of a person who has hepatitis A. The virus is spread most commonly when people put food or objects contaminated with stool containing HAV into their mouths.
Large numbers of people get the virus after drinking contaminated water because, in many parts of the world, drinking water is contaminated with raw sewage. The virus also may be spread by eating uncooked food (such as raw shellfish) and unpeeled fruits and vegetables washed in contaminated water. Hepatitis A outbreaks caused by contaminated drinking water are rare in the United States because water supplies are treated to destroy the virus and other harmful organisms.
In the United States, HAV is spread mainly among people who have close contact with someone who has the virus. You can become infected with HAV if you:
Eat food prepared by someone who does not wash his or her hands well after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
Don't wash your hands after changing a diaper.
Eat raw or undercooked shellfish that was harvested from waters contaminated with raw sewage.
Are a man and have sex with men.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A among children in day care facilities occur because children, especially those who wear diapers, may get stool on their hands and then touch objects that other children put into their mouths. Caregivers in day care centers can spread the virus if they do not wash their hands thoroughly after changing a child's diaper.
It is very rare for hepatitis A virus to be spread by infected blood or blood products. It is not known to be spread through saliva or urine.
Some people fear that hepatitis A infection is related to or increases the risk of contracting acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This is not true. The hepatitis A virus is not related to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, nor does it increase your risk of HIV infection. A person can be infected with both hepatitis A and HIV, but the two infections have nothing to do with each other.
Incubation and contagious periods
After the hepatitis A virus enters your body, the number of virus grows and grows for 2 to 7 weeks. The average incubation period is about 4 weeks.
Your stools and body fluids contain the highest levels of the virus 2 weeks before symptoms start. This is the time when you are most contagious, but you still may spread the virus after symptoms appear.
Hope that helps :)
· 1 decade ago