Press Release

May 19, 2011


Raising Awareness of a Silent Epidemic

World Hepatitis Day – May 19, 2011  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, but most do not know they are infected. Viral hepatitis is an inflammation or infection of the liver and is the leading cause of liver cancer. Today, World Hepatitis Day, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold is encouraging people to learn about hepatitis and how to protect themselves.

“Because viral hepatitis may not have symptoms for years, most people are unaware they are infected. Not only are these people not getting care and treatment, they may also be putting others at risk for infection,” said Dr. Arnold. “By not knowing how hepatitis is spread, or what you can do to avoid infection, you are putting your health at risk.”

Although many cases of hepatitis are not a serious threat to health, infection with certain hepatitis viruses can become chronic (long-lasting), and can sometimes lead to liver failure and death. The most common types of hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

(acute – time limited)

Acute only

Acute; possibly chronic

Acute; possibly chronic


Ingestion of fecal contaminated food or drinks

Contact with infectious blood, semen, and other body fluids from having sex with an infected person, sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs

Contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs.

Symptoms of all types of viral hepatitis are similar and can include one or more of the following:
• Fever • Fatigue • Loss of appetite • Nausea • Vomiting • Abdominal pain • Gray-colored bowel movements • Joint pain • Jaundice


Acute - rest, nutrition, fluids

Acute - rest, nutrition, fluids

Chronic - medications

Acute - rest, nutrition, fluids Chronic - medications






Vaccine - thorough hand washing

Vaccine - avoid contact with blood and body fluids – dirty needles, unprotected sex.

Avoid contact with blood – needles, razors, other items with blood on them.

For more information log onto

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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