An infectious icterus which assumed an epidemic course was known to Hippocrates who described it in 377 BC. Subsequently, Galen and Celsius gave a relatively good description of the disease. According to Varay and Berthelot,1 it represents one of the most peculiar diseases of our times; although it has always existed in both epidemic and endemic forms, its anatomical substrate and its viral origin have only been recognized recently.
The term "viral hepatitis" refers to two etiological entities: the "infectious or type A hepatitis" and the "serum or type B hepatitis." In the acute phase the clinical findings in both types are fairly analogous. However, certain differences exist. The initial phase in "serum hepatitis" tends to be more insidious, the icterus often being the first manifestation; in children this form may start suddenly, in less than 24 hours.2,3 Fever is unusual in serum hepatitis and, if present, is