DURING the first half of this century it became apparent that hepatitis was caused by a filterable agent, presumably a virus, and included two epidemiologic entities—infectious hepatitis (IH) and serum hepatitis (SH). Infectious hepatitis or hepatitis A was considered an enteric disease transmitted by the fecal-oral route that could also be transmitted parenterally. It had a short incubation period of 15 to 45 days, a sudden onset, and could be attenuated by the administration of γ-globulin during the incubation period. Serum hepatitis or hepatitis B was not known to be shed in feces and was thought to be transmitted only by parenteral inoculation as occurred with transfusion or exposure to contaminated needles. It had a long incubation period of 60 to 160 days, an insidious onset, and could not be attenuated by the administration of γ-globulin. Since clinical differentiation was often difficult or impossible, cases without a clear-cut history of
Fass RJ. Sexual Transmission of Viral Hepatitis? JAMA. 1974;230(6):861–862. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240060031026
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