Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention
Hep C Outbreak
Disease Report Investigation Process
Hepatitis B (Serum Hepatitis)
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused by a highly contagious virus that infects the liver. In the past, hepatitis B was
called serum hepatitis.
Many people, especially children, have mild or no symptoms following infection with the virus. However, long-term infection can occur and may lead to liver disease, cancer or death.
Who gets hepatitis B?
Anyone can get hepatitis B. However, certain groups
have a greater chance of becoming infected. These
infants born to infected mothers (See the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program for more information.)
IV drug users
sexual partners of infected people
many heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual partners
certain populations with high rates of hepatitis B
heath care workers
public safety workers
anyone who has frequent contact with blood
clients and staff of institutions for the mentally retarded
Housemates of chronically infected people are at higher risk than the general population, but lower risk than those listed above.
How is the virus spread?
The hepatitis B virus is usually spread:
contaminated blood and blood
close household contact
from infected mothers to
infants at birth (See the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program for more information.)
What are the symptoms?
loss of appetite
occasional skin rashes
jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of
How soon do the symptoms appear?
Symptoms develop slowly and may take as long as
45-180 days (average is 60-90 days) to appear after
exposure to an infected person.
How long can an infected person spread the
An infected person can spread the virus for several
weeks before symptoms appear and as long as the
person is ill.
People who develop lifelong infection (“carriers”) may spread the virus for their entire
Long-term infection may result in liver disease
How is hepatitis B diagnosed?
A blood test is used to detect infection with the
hepatitis B virus.
Can a person get hepatitis B again?
If a person develops hepatitis B antibodies, one
infection with the hepatitis B virus protects against getting it again.
However, there are different
types of viral hepatitis, and infection with hepatitis B
will not protect against other types of hepatitis.
What is the treatment for hepatitis B?
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B.
What can be done if a person is exposed to
someone infected with hepatitis B?
When indicated, hepatitis B immune globulin
(HBIG) should be given within two weeks after
Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended
for people at high risk of additional exposure.
infants born to infected mothers, the combination of
HBIG and vaccine is effective at preventing infection. (See the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program for more information.)
How can the spread of hepatitis B be stopped?
Vaccination is highly protective against the hepatitis
Testing all pregnant women for HbsAg is
recommended to prevent spread from infected mothers to their infants. (See the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program for more information.)
Donated blood should be
tested for and individuals who test positive should
be rejected as donors.
Syringes, acupuncture and tattooing needles should never be shared or reused.
Personal items such as toothbrushes and
razors that could have blood on them should not be
Latex condoms should be used regularly if
there is more than one partner.
Is there a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B?
A vaccine is available and is recommended for all
infants at birth as well as for people at high risk of
being infected with hepatitis B.
The vaccine is safe for most people and the most common complaint is
soreness at the injection site.
People who receive the
vaccine as a precautionary measure may continue to
Where can I get more information?
Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.