Hepatitis D virus, also known as Delta, is a virus that attacks the liver. Hepatitis D virus infection can only occur in people who have hepatitis B virus infection. About 5% of people with hepatitis B virus infection will also have infection with the hepatitis D virus.
People with hepatitis B virus infection may contract hepatitis D virus at the same time (co-infection), or can contract hepatitis D virus after already developing chronic hepatitis B virus infection (superinfection). The virus is transmitted when a person comes in contact with infected blood or body fluids. A mother who is infected with hepatitis D virus can pass the infection to the newborn during birth.
Infection with hepatitis D virus can worsen symptoms of hepatitis B virus infection or hepatitis B virus associated liver disease, and can cause symptoms to occur in people who previously did not have symptoms of hepatitis B virus infection.
The symptoms of hepatitis D virus infection are similar to those experienced with hepatitis B virus infection. Symptoms can include: yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), nausea, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, and joint pain. Persons with chronic hepatitis B virus infection who acquire hepatitis D virus superinfection will usually develop chronic hepatitis D virus infection.
If your child has the hepatitis D virus infection a blood test will show the anti-delta antibody is positive for hepatitis D virus.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis D virus infection. A person who is infected with hepatitis D will receive the same treatment they would for their hepatitis B virus infection.
It is important to get vaccinated against hepatitis B virus because you cannot contract hepatitis D virus unless you have hepatitis B virus infection. It is important to avoid exposure to infected blood and bodily fluids and to not engage in risky behaviors that can increase the chance of contracting the virus.