How Is It Spread?The virus is spread through infected bodily fluids. Among the bodily fluids that can transmit the virus are infected blood and blood products. Hepatitis D is also spread through contact with other infected bodily fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva.
Casual contact -- as in the usual office, factory, or school setting -- does not spread the virus. A person cannot get hepatitis D from a kiss or other normal everyday activities, such as hugging or shaking hands.
(Click Hepatitis D Transmission for more information on how it is spread.)
Who's at Risk for Hepatitis D?Some of the people who are at risk of developing this condition include:
- Intravenous drug users
- People with hemophilia
- Those who have sex with an infected person
- Men who have sex with men
- People from areas where hepatitis D is common, particularly South America, Central Africa, southern Italy, and Middle Eastern countries
- People who live with an infected person
- Healthcare workers
- Hemodialysis patients
- People who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before July 1992
- People who received clotting factors made before 1987
- International travelers
- Infants born to infected mothers (very rarely).
Incubation PeriodFollowing hepatitis D transmission, a person does not immediately become sick. Once the hepatitis D virus enters the body, it travels to the liver, where it begins to multiply.
After 14 to 180 days, symptoms can begin. This period between transmission and the start of signs and symptoms is called the "hepatitis D incubation period." A person with chronic hepatitis B will usually show symptoms more quickly than someone who becomes infected with hepatitis B and D at the same time.
(Click Hepatitis D Incubation Period for more information.)