Includes test for hepatitis A, B and C that can detect an infection caused by one of these three viruses.
An acute viral hepatitis panel is a group of tests often performed together to detect a viral hepatitis infection. Hepatitis is a condition characterised by inflammation and enlargement of the liver. It has many different causes including, for example, drugs and autoimmune diseases, but a common cause is an infection with a virus. There are five hepatitis viruses identified so far that can cause the disease, including Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Viral hepatitis is most commonly caused by Hepatitis A, B, or C. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can also cause hepatitis.
Regardless of the cause, the signs and symptoms of hepatitis are the same. If acute symptoms are suspected to be caused by one of the hepatitis viruses or if someone is at an increased risk of being infected or has been exposed, then hepatitis testing can help determine if the person has been infected and which virus is present.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is highly contagious and is usually contracted by ingesting food or water contaminated with the virus or by coming in direct physical contact with an infected person. While Hepatitis A is usually mild, it can on rare occasions cause a severe, acute disease; however, it does not cause a chronic infection as do Hepatitis B and C. A vaccine is available to prevent Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis. It is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids from an infected person. Exposure can occur, for example, through sharing of needles for intravenous drug use or through unprotected sex. People who live in or travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is prevalent are at a greater risk. Mothers can pass the infection to their babies, usually during birth. The virus, however, is not spread through food or water, casual contact such as holding hands or coughing or sneezing. A vaccine can be given to protect against Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is also spread by exposure to contaminated blood, primarily through the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users, but also by sharing personal items contaminated by blood such as razors, through unprotected sex with an infected person, via health care occupational exposure, and from mother to baby during childbirth. Before tests for HCV became available in the 1990s, HCV was often transmitted by blood transfusions but this is now extremely rare. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent infection with HCV.
Some of the tests detect IgM antibodies. These are the first antibodies produced during the initial stages of infection. As the disease progresses or resolves, IgM antibody levels decrease. Another test frequently performed measures hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), which detects proteins on the surface of the virus. HBsAg is the earliest indicator of an acute Hepatitis B infection and is usually present even before symptoms appear, so this test is useful for screening those who are at high risk of infection or who may have been exposed. A test for Hepatitis C antibody cannot distinguish between an active or previous infection and further testing is necessary (e.g. molecular detection of HCV RNA) to determine whether the infection is current.
The incubation period of hepatitis A is usually 14–28 days.
Hepatitis B: Usually 45-180 days, average of 60-90 days.
Hepatitis C: Usually 9-180 days, average of 45-65 days.
No test preparation is needed.
Acute viral hepatitis testing may be requested when a person has had blood tests which reveal abnormal liver function or and/or when someone has acute symptoms associated with liver damage such as:
In the presence of acute symptoms such as those listed above, a positive result is considered diagnostic for an acute infection with Hepatitis A and B. Testing acute viral hepatitis may sometimes be used to screen people who are at an increased risk for Hepatitis B or C infection or if it is known that they have been exposed. Below are listed some examples of who may be screened for acute viral hepatitis:
The table below summarises results that may be seen following testing for acute viral hepatitis:
|Anti-hepatitis A, IgM||Hepatitis B surface antigen||Anti-hepatitis B core, IgM||Anti-hepatitis C||Interpretation|
|Positive||Negative||Negative||Negative||Acute hepatitis A|
|Negative||Positive||Positive||Negative||Acute hepatitis B*|
|Negative||Positive||Negative||Negative||Chronic hepatitis B infection|
|Negative||Negative||Positive||Negative||Quantity of hepatitis B surface antigen is too low to detect|
|Negative||Negative||Negative||Positive||Acute or chronic hepatitis C; additional tests are required to make the determination|
* Note – Persons with small amounts of anti-hepatitis B core IgM in their blood are more likely to have chronic HBV infection of have been infected with HBV several months previously.
If other hepatitis tests are performed to help determine prior exposure or previous infection, they may indicate the following:
It is possible to be infected with more than one hepatitis virus, and acute infection with one hepatitis virus can be superimposed on a chronic infection with a different hepatitis virus. In such cases, there may be a positive result for more than one type of virus and care must be taken when interpreting the results.
If all the viral tests are negative, then the antibody or antigen level is too low to detect or the hepatitis is due to some other cause.
The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.
Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.
This package includes Hep B Surface Antigen & Antibodies and Hep B Core IgG/IgM tests.
The 5th Gen HIV test identifies both HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies and the p24 antigen individually in one blood sample to inform you which marker is positive.
One of our team members will contact you shortly. In the meantime, we recommend you to explore our website to learn more about VisitHealth and our services.