Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus.

Hepatitis B is the first vaccine that is recommended for our babies to receive.  Lets take a look at the disease and why it is important.

How is Hepatitis B passed from one person to another?

Hepatitis B is either passed from an infected mother to a baby when the baby is born or through contact with the blood or body fluids of someone who is infected.  The virus can live outside of the body for 7 days and it takes 30-60 days after infection to detect the virus in an infected person.  Pretty sneaky!

What happens when you become infected?

Hepatitis B attacks the liver and causes acute (short term) and chronic liver disease or even liver failure.  It may take a while, but eventually a person with Hepatitis B could develop scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or even liver cancer. 

How serious is it?

Hepatitis B can cause acute (short term) or chronic liver disease.  It can also causescarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or liver cancer which can both be fatal. BUT! Most people do not experience any symptoms when newly infected.

Here are some SCARY statistics:

In infants and children:

  • 80–90% of infants infected during the first year of life develop chronic infections
  • 30–50% of children infected before the age of 6 years develop chronic infections.
  • 20–30% of adults who are chronically infected will develop potentially deadly scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and/or liver cancer.

Since Hepatitis is a viral infection, there isn’t any treatment that can make the virus go away, only treatments to slow down the process and help with the symptoms.

Why should I choose to immunize?

Hepatitis B is most dangerous if a person is infected as a child.  Accidental exposure can lead to infection which then can lead to life long risks and complications.  The three dose series provides protection for at least 20 years, and even lifelong for many people.

Since 1982, over 1 billion doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been used worldwideand the Hepatitis B vaccine provides 98- 100% protection.

Not so FUN fact

This part is crazy!  You may not even know you are infected with Hepatitis B until your symptoms become more severe.  As of 2016, 27 million people (10.5% of all people estimated to be living with hepatitis B) were aware of their infection.  Of that 27 million, only 4.5 million people were on any kind of treatment.

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