What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a double-shelled DNA virus that can infect liver cells and cause acute or chronic hepatitis (serious forms of liver inflammation). It occurs in both rapidly developing (acute) and long-lasting (chronic) forms, and is one of the commonest chronic infectious diseases worldwide. BiliveTM is an effective vaccine that thwarts the disease in those who are later exposed.

Is HBV contagious?
The virus is 100 times more infectious than human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is a blood borne virus that can be transmitted by injury from bloodstained sharp instruments, bone or teeth, or via splashes of blood or other body fluids onto broken surfaces of the skin, the mouth, eye and other mucous membranes. It can be transmitted sexually and also vertically from mother to baby.

How long can HBV survive outside the body?
Unlike HIV, HBV can live outside the body in dried blood for longer than a week, e.g. tabletops, razor blades, bloodstains, and still be capable of transmitting infection. An infected person’s blood is infective many weeks before the onset of the first symptoms and throughout the acute phase of the disease. The infectivity of chronically infected individuals varies from highly infectious (HBeAg positive) to often sparingly infectious (anti-HBe positive).

How prevalent is HBV?
In Southeast Asia, China, and sub-Saharan Africa, HBV infection usually is acquired perinatally or in early childhood, leading to a high prevalence of chronic infection (5 to 20 percent). Because newborns have an immature immune system, 90 percent of infants infected perinatally progress to chronic infection. Progression to chronic HBV infection occurs in 25 to 30 percent of persons infected before five years of age, and in 3 to 5 percent of those infected later in childhood or as adults. Immuno-suppressed patients are at greater risk of becoming chronically infected.

How soon will I know if I have been infected?
The usual incubation period of hepatitis B is between 60-90 days (although it can range from 40-160 days). Roughly one third of those infected have no clinical symptoms and are not aware of the infection. About a third have mild symptoms about 3 months after coming into contact with the virus, these include malaise, nausea and ‘flu-like symptoms. The remainder may develop acute hepatitis – vomiting, abdominal pain and then jaundice. About 1 per cent of patients are at risk of developing fulminant hepatitis, a condition that carries a high mortality rate.

How can I protect other family members if my child tests positive for hepatitis B?
All parents, siblings, and other household members should be vaccinated. Extended family members, childcare providers, family, friends, and others should consider vaccination if they have frequent and close contact with your child.

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