is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a
serious infection of the liver.
is the infectious agent that causes hepatitis B virus infection?
infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B virus is
present in the blood and body fluids of infected persons.
is hepatitis B virus infection found?
infection occurs worldwide.
do people get hepatitis B infection?
Hepatitis B virus is
easily spread by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an
infected person. For example, hepatitis B can be transmitted from an
infected mother to her baby at birth, through unprotected sex with an
infected person, by sharing equipment for injecting street drugs, and
by occupational contact with blood in a health-care setting. Hepatitis
B is not spread through food or water or by casual contact.
People can have
hepatitis B (and spread the disease) without knowing it. Sometimes,
people who are infected with hepatitis B virus never recover fully
from the infection. They carry the virus and can infect others for the
rest of their lives.
are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B?
Many persons who are
infected with hepatitis B virus have no symptoms. Others become ill
with these symptoms:
in muscles, joints, or stomach
(yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
complications can result from hepatitis B?
persons clear the hepatitis B virus out of their systems completely in
a few months. In some people, especially infants and children,
hepatitis B virus can cause chronic (lifelong) liver infection.
Chronic infection can lead to liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer,
is hepatitis B diagnosed?
Hepatitis B can be
diagnosed by a blood test.
is at risk for hepatitis B?
Anyone can get
hepatitis B, but the risk is higher if a person:
sex with someone infected with hepatitis B virus
sex with more than one partner
a man who has sex with another man
in the same house with someone who has lifelong hepatitis B virus
a job that involves contact with human blood
a patient or worker in a home for the developmentally disabled
or travels often to areas where hepatitis B is common
parents were born in some parts of China, Southeast Asia, Africa, the
Amazon Basin in South America, the Pacific islands, and the Middle
East are also at high risk.
is the treatment for hepatitis B?
There is no cure for
hepatitis B. Treatment includes rest and proper diet.
common is hepatitis B infection?
Hepatitis B is a
very common infection. Each year in the United States, an estimated
200,000 persons are newly infected with hepatitis B virus. More than
11,000 of these people are hospitalized, and 20,000 remain chronically
infected. Overall, an estimated 1.25 million people in the United
States have chronic hepatitis B virus infection, and 4,000 to 5,000
people die each year from liver disease or liver cancer related to
hepatitis B. Nearly 300 million persons in the world are chronically
infected with hepatitis B virus. High rates of chronic infection are
found in some parts of China, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Pacific
islands, the Amazon Basin in South America, and the Middle East.
can hepatitis B be prevented?
Hepatitis B vaccine
is the best protection against hepatitis B virus. The vaccine prevents
both hepatitis B virus infection and the chronic diseases related to
hepatitis B. Three shots are needed for complete protection. Hepatitis
B vaccine is recommended for:
children 11-12 years of age who have not been vaccinated
of any age whose behavior or job puts them at high risk for
hepatitis B virus infection
women should be tested for hepatitis B virus early in their pregnancy.
If the blood test is positive, the baby should receive hepatitis B
vaccine at birth, along with another shot (hepatitis B immune
globulin). If the blood test shows that the mother is not infected,
vaccination of the baby can be delayed until age 2-6 months. This
delay responds to concerns that the small amounts of mercury in the
vaccine preservative thimerosal could pose a theoretical risk to
newborn infants, although no scientific evidence of harm caused by
this level of exposure has been reported. When a new hepatitis B
vaccine that does not contain the preservative thimerosal becomes
available, newborn hepatitis B vaccination does not need to be delayed
and can start at birth.
vaccine has been available since 1982 and has been shown to be very
safe when given to infants, children, and adults. More than 200
million doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been administered in the
United States, including more than 50 million doses administered to
infants and young children. The most common side effect from hepatitis
B vaccination is temporary pain at the injection site, occurring in
about 3%-9% of children and adolescents and 13%-29% of adults. The
second most commonly reported side effect is mild to moderate fever,
occurring in about 4%-7% of children and 1% of adults. Studies show
that these side effects are reported no more often among vaccinated
persons than among persons not receiving vaccine.
is no confirmed scientific evidence that hepatitis B vaccine causes
chronic illness. Large-scale hepatitis B immunization programs in the
United States and abroad have observed no associated between
vaccination and serious adverse events, and surveillance in the United
States has shown no association between hepatitis B vaccination and
the occurrence of serious adverse events.