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Infectious Disease - Hepatitis B

Infectious Disease - Hepatitis B

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Published by Bridget M Mackyeon

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Published by: Bridget M Mackyeon on Oct 06, 2011
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Infectious DiseaseHCA 24014 August 2011
Hepatitis BHepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For somepeople, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, leading to liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis
a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. Most people infected with hepatitis Bas adults recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children aremuch more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection. Although no cure exists for hepatitisB, a vaccine can prevent the disease (Mayo Foundation for medical Education and Research,2011). Hepatitis B infection may be either short-lived (acute hepatitis B) or long lasting (chronichepatitis B).Acute hepatitis B infection lasts less than six months. If the disease is acute, your immunesystem is usually able to clear the virus from your body, and you should recover completelywithin a few months. Most people who acquire hepatitis B as adults have an acute infection.Chronic hepatitis B infection lasts six months or longer. When your immune system can't fightoff the virus, hepatitis B infection may become life long, possibly leading to serious illnessessuch as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Most infants infected with HBV at birth and many childreninfected between 1 and 5 years of age become chronically infected. Chronic infection may goundetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease (Mayo Foundationfor medical Education and Research, 2011).Hepatitis B infection can be spread through having contact with blood, semen, vaginalfluids, and other body fluids of someone who already has a hepatitis B infection or duringchildbirth (PubMed Health, 2010). Common ways HBV is transmitted include sexual contact,
sharing needles, accidental needle sticks, and childbirth. One may become infected if one hasunprotected sexual contact with an infected partner whose blood, saliva, semen or vaginal
secretions enter one’s body. HBV is easily transmitted throug
h needles and syringescontaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous (IV) drug paraphernalia puts one at highrisk of hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comesin contact with human blood. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to theirbabies during childbirth (Mayo Foundation for medical Education and Research, 2011). Most of the damage from the hepatitis B virus occurs because of the way the body respondsto the infection. When the body
’s immune system detects the infection, it sends out special cells
to fight it off. The disease fighting cells, however, can lead to liver inflammation (PubMedHealth, 2010). Albumin level, liver function, and prothrombin time tests are done to identify andmonitor liver damage from hepatitis B. Antibody to HBsAg (Anti- HBs), Antibody to hepatitis Bcore antigen (Anti-HBc), Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and Hepatitis E surface antigen(HBeAg) tests are done to diagnose and monitor people with hepatitis B. Patients with chronichepatitis will need ongoing blood tests to monitor their status.If 
one’s doctor determines one’s
hepatitis B infection is acute
meaning it is short-livedand will go away on its own
one may not need treatment.
Instead, one’
s doctor will work toreduce any signs and symptoms one experience
s while one’s
body fights the infe
ction. One’s
 doctor may recommend follow-up blood tests to m
ake sure the virus has left one’s
body. If onehas been diagnosed with chronic hepa
titis B infection, one’s doctor may recommend antiviral
medications or a liver transplant. Antiviral medications help fight the virus and slow its ability to

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