HEPATITIS D VIRUS (HDV)
Hepatitis D (delta agent) occurs in some cases of hepatitis B. Be-cause the virus requires hepatitis B surface antigen for its replica-tion, only individuals with hepatitis B are at risk for hepatitis D. Anti-delta antibodies in the presence of HBAg on testing confirm the diagnosis. It is also common among IV/injection drug users, hemodialysis patients, and recipients of multiple blood transfu-sions. Sexual contact with those with hepatitis B is considered to be an important mode of transmission of hepatitis B and D. The incubation period varies between 21 and 140 days (Bacon & Di Bisceglie, 2000).
The symptoms of hepatitis D are similar to those of hepatitis B, except that patients are more likely to develop fulminant hepati-tis and to progress to chronic active hepatitis and cirrhosis. Treat-ment is similar to that of other forms of hepatitis; interferon as a specific treatment for hepatitis D is under investigation.
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