Differences between Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viral infections

Table of Contents

Photo of Differences between Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viral infections

The differences between hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E can be explained by the differences in the viral structures, the modes of transmission, and many more as listed below. There are different types of hepatitis (non-viral and viral types) but the type caused by Viruses is what is differentiated here. I will be using a table together with pictures to compare and contrast the different kinds of viral Hepatitis which are Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. The table summarizes the differences between Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E according to the mode of transmission, their incubation periods, treatments together with their drugs, complications, and availability of vaccines. I will summarize the hepatitis differences in the table and explain in detail after that. Hepatitis is singular while Hepatitides (Plural).


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis E

Etiology (cause)

Hepatitis A Virus
Hepatitis B Virus
Hepatitis E Virus


Single-stranded RNA virus
Single-Stranded DNA virus
Single-Stranded RNA virus
Single-Stranded RNA virus
Single-Stranded RNA virus

Presence of Envelope

Non-enveloped virus
Enveloped virus
Enveloped virus
Enveloped virus
Non-enveloped virus

Viral Family

Picorna virus
Hepadna virus
Flavi virus
No Viral Family but known as Delta virus

Incubation Period

2 to 7 weeks
6 weeks to 6 months
2 to 23 weeks
2 to 8 weeks
3 to 9 weeks

Mode of Transmission

Eating contaminated food and drinks (Feco-oral spread)
Mostly by blood and sexual contact
By blood and sexual contact
Coinfection or superinfection with Hepatitis B
Feco-orally spread

Mother to Child

May not be transmitted to baby in pregnancy
Mother can transmit to baby during birth
Mother can transmit to baby during birth
May not be transmitted to baby in pregnancy
May not be transmitted to baby in pregnancy

Treatment and Drugs

No drugs; only treated by supporting the body to fight the infection
Antiretroviral drugs (e.g. Lamivudine)
Harvoni (ledipasvir and Sofosbuvir) and Sovaldi (only sofosbuvir)drugs
Lonafarnib and pegylated interferon
No treatment, only supportive management

Severity and Complications

Does not cause Liver cancer
Can cause Liver cancer
Can cause Liver cancer
Does not cause Liver cancer on its own but worsen it in Hepatitis B infection
Does not cause liver cancer. It has bad outcome in Pregnant women

Vaccines availability

There is a vaccine
There is a vaccine available
There is no vaccine
Vaccination against Hepatitis B is protective
There is vaccine

Hepatitis cannot be differentiated by symptoms because all Hepatitides have similar symptoms.

Differences between Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E

  1. Hepatitis B and C can cause liver disease such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer but Hepatitis A and E does not
  2. Hepatitis E affects pregnant women more
  3. Hepatitis B is more deadly than hepatitis C as Hep B is more infectious and drugs of treatment do not cure the disease but reduces the rate of progression.
  4. Hepatitis A, B and E have vaccines whereas Hepatitis C and D have none
  5. Drugs for treatment of Hepatitis B and C are available whereas Hepatitis A and E treatment are supportive
  6. In terms of Epidemics, Hepatitis A causes outbreaks more than other kinds of Hepatitis
  7. The viral infection with the shortest incubation occurs in Hepatitis A and D whereas the longest incubation period is with Hepatitis B and C
  8. The commonest form is Hepatitis A whereas D is rare and only occurs in those with Hep B
  9. Hepatitis C is curable but the drugs are more costly than any other type of Hepatitis
  10. The Only DNA virus is Hepatitis B

Comparison (similarities) of Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses

  1. All are caused by Viruses named according to the letters of the alphabets
  2. All forms of viral hepatitides have similar symptoms such as vomiting, yellowish eyes and skin (Jaundice), fatigue ( feeling tired), abdominal pains
  3. They affect the liver cells
  4. Hepatitis B and C both can cause liver cirrhosis or liver cancer
  5. All types have acute stages
  6. Hepatitis B, C and D have envelops
  7. Hepatitis A and E have no envelop
  8. Hepatitis A, B and C have viral families
  9. Hepatitis D have no family while Hepatitis E virus family may be controversial
  10. Hepatitis A and E are both transmitted feco-orally
  11. Hepatitis B and C have both have similar methods of spread by blood and contact with body fluids such as during sexual contact
  12. All are single stranded viruses
  13. With the exception of Hepatitis B being a DNA virus, other kinds such as Hepatitis A, C, D and E are RNA viruses

Differences between Hepatitis core antigen and surface antigen

The hepatitis surface antigen shows whether someone has ever had infection before or not (be it in the past or present). The surface antigen is used in screening tests and is cheaper. The only difference between the surface and core antigen is that the core antigen shows if the infection is chronic or acute. The presence of the hepatitis core antigen shows that you have a long standing infection.

Differences between Hepatitis carrier state and chronic state

Carrier state in hepatitis infection means that the virus is reproducing and dividing (a process properly known medically as Replication. The problem is not in the replication of the virus but whether the virus is causing damage to the liver or not. If the virus is causing damage to the liver as it is replicating, then it is known as Active carrier state; if the virus is not causing damage to the liver even with the replication, it is known as inactive carrier state. When the virus is damaging the liver, there is a chemical that is released in the liver cells known as Alanine transaminase (Alt). This chemical is actually known as an Enzyme.

When the liver cells are destroyed, the ALT is released and the amount in the blood becomes much and when measured by laboratory test (Liver function test), it will be increased in the active carrier state and normal levels are measured in the inactive carrier state. That is how simple the difference between active carrier state and inactive carrier state of Hepatitis is. Both the active and inactive carriers are forms of chronic hepatitis; hence, you could have chronic inactive carrier or chronic active carrier. The active carriers progress easily to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Differences between acute Hepatitis and chronic hepatitis

The main difference between Acute and Chronic Hepatitis is the period of time the infection has been in the body. If the infection has been for less than 6 months, it is said to be an Acute Hepatitis infection; In contrast, Chronic Hepatitis infection means there is persistence of infection by the Hepatitis Virus for more than 6 months. The Hepatitis Core antigen (cAg) shows whether there is Chronic hepatitis or not.