Algoma Public Health
- Hepatitis B
What is it?
- A viral disease that affects the liver.
- About 10% of cases will carry the virus for many years, possibly life.
- The younger an individual is when exposed to HBV infection, the more likely they will become a chronic carrier.
- This carrier state can lead to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver late in life.
What are the symptoms?
- Many have no symptoms
- Others will have jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Mild Fever
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
How quickly do symptoms develop?
- Within 45-180 days, average 60-90 days, after coming in contact with the virus.
How is it spread?
- By sexual contact with an infected person.
- By contact with infected blood (need a route of entry, i.e. crack in skin).
- By sharing needles.
- By sharing toothbrushes or razor blades.
- By receiving a bite from an infected person.
- By receiving a tattoo or piercing with unsterilized needles or contaminated water.
It is not spread by water, food or by casual contact that occurs at most schools or workplaces.
How long is it contagious?
- For weeks before the onset of symptoms and for as long as the person is carrying the virus.
How is it treated?
- After assessment of a doctor, sometimes medications are used to treat the carrier state.
- When and how to treat your hepatitis B is a decision between you and your doctor.
- Current research is directed toward finding other effective antiviral treatments.
- These treatments do not provide a cure, but they offer control of the virus so that further damage to your liver can be prevented.
What can you do if you are infected with hepatitis B virus?
- Eat nutritious food.
- Avoid or limit alcohol intake.
- Use safe sex practices. Your partner should consult a doctor for testing as soon as possible.
- If testing proves that your partner has no protection against hepatitis B, he/she will be advised to receive hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccine.
- Everyone who lives in your home should be tested and offered the hepatitis B vaccine as needed.
- Tell your doctor, dentist and other health care providers that you are infected so that they can take the necessary precautions.
- Do not give blood or donate your organs.
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers or needles with other people
- Clean up blood with freshly diluted household bleach (1 part bleach, 9 parts water). The bleach will kill any hepatitis B left on the surface.
- Discard articles contaminated with blood in a plastic bag.
- Cover cuts and sores with bandages.
How can it be prevented?
- Hepatitis B vaccine can protect you against the hepatitis B virus.
- All pregnant women should have prenatal testing so that newborns can received hepatitis B vaccine and immune globulin if needed.
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers or needles with other people.
- Use safer sex practices.
- Only received tattoos or piercings at facilities that use single use needles and inks and/or follow proper sterilization procedures.
June 1, 2015
Feb 25, 2016