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Acute viral hepatitis is a systemic infection predominantly affecting the liver. Clinically characterized by malaise, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and low-grade fever followed by dark urine, jaundice, and tender hepatomegaly; may be subclinical and detected on the basis of elevated aspartate and alanine aminotransferase (AST and ALT) levels. Hepatitis B may be associated with immune-complex phenomena, including arthritis, serum sickness-like illness, glomerulonephritis, and a polyarteritis nodosa–like vasculitis. Hepatitis-like illnesses may be caused not only by hepatotropic viruses (A, B, C, D, E) but also by other viruses (Epstein-Barr, CMV, coxsackievirus, etc.), alcohol, drugs, hypotension and ischemia, and biliary tract disease (Table 155-1).

TABLE 155-1Clinical and Epidemiologic Features of Viral Hepatitis

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