Immunizations: Hepatitis D Virus

Hand holding a vial of blood labeled Hepatitis D virus

Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease. It is caused by an infection from the hepatitis D virus (HDV). Hepatitis D is also known as delta hepatitis.

The illness can be acute or chronic. That means the illness can either cause serious short-term health problems or could cause life-long illness that affects you for the rest of your life. Hepatitis D cases are rare in the United States.

Hepatitis D is an incomplete virus. It needs help from the hepatitis B virus to infect people. Hepatitis D only infects people who have the hepatitis B virus.

A vaccine against hepatitis B can help prevent hepatitis D

The best way to prevent hepatitis D is to get the vaccine for hepatitis B.

Learn more about hepatitis D

Hepatitis D 101

How it spreads

Hepatitis D spreads through the skin or bodily fluids:

  • During sexual contact.
  • By sharing needles, syringes, or other ways of injecting drugs.
  • By passing it to your baby at birth if you’re infected while pregnant.

In the United States, hepatitis D infection occurs most often in people who are at high risk. This includes people who often use drugs and have unprotected sex.

Learn more from our fact sheet, Hepatitis D, P-42057, which is translated into Spanish and Hmong.

Signs and symptoms

When you get infected with the hepatitis D virus, these signs and symptoms typically appear three to seven weeks afterwards. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired.
  • Not feeling hungry.
  • Having a fever.
  • Vomiting (throwing up).
  • Having joint pain.
  • Developing hives or rash.
  • Having dark urine (pee).
  • Yellowing of the skin and white part of the eyes (jaundice).

Treatment and prevention

There are no medicines or antibiotics to treat people who have hepatitis D.

There isn’t a vaccine to prevent hepatitis D. Being vaccinated against hepatitis B is the best way to protect yourself. Find out if you got your hepatitis B vaccine. Check our Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Wisconsin Immunization Registry.

If you’re worried about cost, your family may be eligible for free vaccines. Read about our Vaccines For Children and Vaccines For Adults programs.

Resources

Just for health care providers

Hepatitis D is a communicable disease. Health care providers must report cases of hepatitis D.

Reporting and surveillance

Hepatitis D is a Wisconsin Disease Surveillance Category II disease.

Report a recognized case to the patient’s local public health department. Within 72 hours, submit a case report through one of the following:

Read more about required disease reporting in Wisconsin.

Case reporting and public health guidelines

Contact us

Stephanie Borchardt
Epidemiologist
Division of Public Health
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
Email: stephanie.borchardt@wi.gov
Phone: 608-266-9923
Fax: 608-267-9493

Last Revised: October 11, 2022