Hepatitis D Fact Sheet
Bloodborne Pathogens Section
- Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis delta virus.
- Discovered in 1977
- This is a defective virus. It can only replicate in the
presence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg).
- People infected with Hep D can be coinfected (infected with Hep
B and D at the same time), or superinfected (existing Hep B
infection and then infected later with Hep D)
Incubation period of coinfected people is longer than that of superinfected people
Worldwide,>5% of people with Hep B are also infected with Hep D
Acute Illness: Serious illness in most cases
Chronic Illness: 2% of infections become long-term
Chronic Illness: Over 90%
of people infected become long-term carriers
Death from Cancer of the Liver
Few die from this complication
Death rates are higher for patients with HBV and patients with
Disease from liver damage (15-25%)
Signs and Symptoms
- The symptoms of Hep D are identical to those of Hep B (click
here for Hep B Fact Sheet).
- These symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and
eyes), tiredness, loss of appetite, joint pain, pain in the stomach
area, and feelings of sickness.
Modes of Transmission
- Most cases are acquired by exposure to contaminated
- Sexual transmission occurs, but is not common
- Household transmission can occur.
Persons at Risk
Those at risk for Hep D infection are limited to people at risk
for Hep B. This includes people with multiple sexual partners and
people who inject drugs. (See Hep B Fact Sheet)
- In people without Hep B infection, vaccination against HBV will
protect against the hepatitis delta virus.
- People with Hep B should try to eliminate their risk of
exposure to infected blood or blood products (see risk factors) to
make sure they do not become infected.
- There are no vaccines available for Hep D.
- Vaccination against Hep B will protect against Hep D.
- Hep D can be treated in some cases by Interferon-alpha, but
around 60-97% of those who initially respond to the treatment will
relapse, and get Hep D again.
Canadian Data on the Trends of Hep D
- The prevalence of Hep D infection is extremely low in
Reference: Bloodborne Pathogens Section, Blood Safety
Surveillance and Health Care Acquired Infections Division, Health