Common Diseases

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infectious inflammatory illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis B does not generally spread through water and food. The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids and can be communicated perinatally from mother to baby.  Other risk factors for developing HBV infection include working in a healthcare setting, transfusions, and dialysis, acupuncture, tattooing, extended overseas travel and residence in an institution. Hepatitis B viruses cannot be spread by holding hands or hugging.

Acute infection with hepatitis B virus begins with general ill-health, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, body aches, mild fever, and dark urine, liver inflammation and then progresses to development of jaundice and, in some cases, death. Chronic hepatitis B may eventually cause cirrhosis and liver cancer both of which are diseases with poor response to all but a few therapies. The infection is preventable by vaccination.

Several vaccines have been developed for the prevention of hepatitis B virus infection. One cannot be infected with hepatitis B from a synthetic non-blood based vaccine. The vaccine is administered by injection in either two-, three-, or four-dose schedules. Following correct adminiatration and a blood test you may have immunity to the Hepatitis B infection for up to 25 years.