Hepatitis B Resources
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. It can lead to severe illness, life-long disease, scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer, or death.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of hepatitis B may include fatigue, loss of appetite, ever, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the
skin or eyes (jaundice), and dark urine. Some people who are
infected may have no symptoms at all.
How is the virus spread?
Hepatitis B is spread from person to person through blood and other body fluids. You can get hepatitis B by:
- having unprotected sex (gay or straight) with an infected person
- sharing needles or syringe
- sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clipper
- getting a tattoo or body piercing with improperly sterilized equipment
A child may be infected at birth or in childhood if born to a mother who has hepatitis B (perinatal hepatitis B).
Hepatitis B is NOT spread by casual contact such as shaking hands or sharing a workspace.
How is hepatitis B treated?
There are no specific treatments for the acute symptoms of viral hepatitis B. Doctors recommend bed rest, preventing dehydration, a healthy diet, and avoidance of alcoholic beverages.
Most people with mild to severe acute hepatitis begin to feel better in two to three weeks and recover completely with four to eight weeks. However, about ten percent of infected people may become chronic carriers of the hepatitis B virus. Most carriers remain infectious for life and can infect others with the virus. Carriers are also at a much higher risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
How can hepatitis B be prevented?
A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B is available. It is safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all newborns be vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus before leaving the hospital. This is an effort to eliminate chronic carriers. Hepatitis B vaccination series is also required for school entry in Utah.
Hepatitis B is a reportable disease in Utah. For more information on hepatitis B, click here.