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Hepatitis has gone along with human history since its origins, due to its prompt identifiability linked to jaundice as a symptom. Written evidence of outbreaks of epidemic jaundice can be tracked back a few millenniums before Christ. Unavoidable confusion arises due to the overlap of different sources possibly linked to different aetiologies, identified over time as epidemic jaundice (HAV or HEV hepatitis?) and serum hepatitis (HBV or HCV hepatitis?). The journey that brought to recognize viruses as the main cause of jaundice was long and started midway during the last century, when the infectious hypothesis, which had taken place step by step, was finally confirmed by epidemiological investigations of an outbreak occurring in the US army in 1942, after a yellow fever immunization campaign. Further research identified two clinically different types of hepatitis, called for the first time hepatitis A and hepatitis B.


Lucia Craxi. Hepatitis: a longstanding companion in human history]. Le infezioni in medicina : rivista periodica di eziologia, epidemiologia, diagnostica, clinica e terapia delle patologie infettive. 2012 Mar;20(1):52-7

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PMID: 22475661

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