What's New in the Alphabet Soup of Viral Hepatitis

An Update on Hepatitis A and B in Kids

Ravi Jhaveri, MD


June 07, 2011

In This Article

What Do You Need to Know About Hepatitis in Kids?

An 18-year-old male presents to the emergency department with a 1-week history of increasing jaundice, malaise, abdominal pain, and now fever that has developed in the last 24 hours. On examination, he is ill-appearing with obvious icterus of the skin and eyes. He reports that he just returned from a camping trip to South America for which he took no pretravel precautions such as immunizations. While there, he ate the local fare and really enjoyed himself. He denies being ill during his trip.

What is the next step with this young man?

The American Board of Pediatrics content outline on hepatitis viruses emphasizes the importance of pediatric providers remaining current on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the numerous viruses known to cause hepatitis in children. The factors that predispose a child to infection as well as the diagnosis and management differ depending on the particular virus.

Why are the hepatitis viruses considered together? They have little in common from a virology standpoint other than that they infect the same organ. In general, the symptoms result from the body's immune response, not from the infection itself. The key differences are:

  • Transmission route;

  • Incubation period;

  • Clinical manifestations; and

  • Availability of a vaccine.

Each will be discussed separately.


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