Inflammation of the liver, or hepatitis, can be caused by alcohol consumption, prescribed and over-the-counter medications, narcotics, health conditions, and viral infection. A damaged liver’s inability to remove toxins from the blood can be fatal. The Virology/Serology Unit of the Kansas Health and Environmental Labs (KHEL) tests for three distinct hepatitis viruses.
Hepatitis A, B, and C are each caused by a unique virus. A viral hepatitis infection is caused by exposure to as little as a microscopic amount of infected body fluid. Most infected individuals are unaware they are infected with any hepatitis virus. The viruses still damage the liver in the absence of symptoms. It can take up to 20 years for scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), or a liver cancer to develop.
The photo shows a reactive result for a viral hepatitis test. The lone yellow well near the top right corner of the image is the reactive result. Nonreactive or negative test results have no color. The yellow wells on the bottom of the image are the plate’s positive controls.
Hepatitis A, a vaccine preventable virus, is spread through the consumption of infected stool-contaminated food or drink. Unhoused individuals, and children in childcare and inhabitants of residential facilities with poor sanitation practices are at increased risk for hepatitis A infection. KHEL requires prior state epidemiologist approval for any hepatitis A test. Contact a state epidemiologist at (877) 427-7317 for more information.
Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable virus. Most people infected with hepatitis B are unaware they are infected. It is spread primarily when hepatitis B infected body fluids, such as semen or blood, enter a person’s body. For more information, visit our Hepatitis B Testing page.
Hepatitis C is the most common of the three hepatitis viruses KHEL tests. It is spread by sharing blood-contaminated needles and syringes, unprotected sex, poor infection control in residential facilities, and contaminated tattoo or body piercing instruments. Hepatitis C is the only viral hepatitis that is curable. For more information, visit our Hepatitis C testing page.