The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through contact with infected body fluids including blood, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Most adults (95%) recover completely from hepatitis B infection. However, in around 90% of cases, chronic illness occurs when transmission is from mother to baby. In children aged 1-5, it is estimated that 20-50% of infections will become chronic. Acute hepatitis B infection usually lasts from 1 to 3 weeks but can last several weeks and symptoms (if any) generally appear 60 to 90 days after infection. Many people, particularly children do not experience symptoms. There is a vaccine available for hepatitis B.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis B infection (if they occur) include:
- general aches & pains
- loss of appetite
- abdominal discomfort
- dark urine
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin & eyes)
To avoid Hepatitis B infection:
- get vaccinated
- practice safe sex
- avoid sharing injecting equipment including needles,syringes,water,tourniquets,filters & spoons.
- wear disposable gloves if giving someone first aid and when cleaning up blood or body fluids
- use new, sterile injecting equipment to ensure against blood contamination during injecting