Health Questions and Answers

Question: How is hepatitis D virus (delta virus) transmitted?


Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is a very small RNA virus that contains a defective genome and requires HBsAg to become pathogenic. Infection may occur under two circumstances:
1. In conjunction with simultaneous infection with hepatitis B in a previously unexposed patient (coinfection)
2. In the chronic carrier of HBsAg (superinfection).

Hepatitis D is diagnosed by detecting IgM antibody to HDV in acute serum or an increase in IgG antibody to HDV in convalescent serum.

Reference: Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS (eds): Gastrointestinal Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management, 7th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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