OBJECTIVE: To describe the etiology of hepatitis and identify occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

CLINICAL PRESENTATION AND INTERVENTION: A 40-year-old man presented with severe abdominal pain and jaundice, a history of acute HBV infection that had cleared as well as the use of acetaminophen, methamphetamine, buprenorphine and marijuana. He admitted to having had unprotected sex with multiple partners of both genders. A thorough skin examination revealed papulosquamous lesions on his penis, scrotum, upper and lower extremities and feet. Transaminases and bilirubin were elevated. His rapid plasma reagin was reactive, and hepatitis serologies showed occult HBV. Liver biopsy showed severe hepatitis, but the stains for hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core antigen were negative. The pathological findings were highly indicative of drug-induced hepatitis without evidence of chronic hepatitis, reactivation of HBV or syphilitic hepatitis. With supportive management and abstinence from drugs, his condition improved.

CONCLUSION: This case describes a patient with multiple potential causes for hepatitis and highlights the importance of obtaining a detailed social history. Further, one should consider the presence of occult HBV and recognize the serologic pattern.

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Published in Medical Principles and Practice, v. 23, no. 5, p. 471-474.

© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel

This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (www.karger.com/OA-license), applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.

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