Search Button
Divider Home Button

Fact sheets menu image

Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?
Where is hepatitis B found?
What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
How is hepatitis B spread?
How can I keep from getting hepatitis B?
If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for hepatitis B? How serious is the disease?
Where can I get more information on hepatitis B?

What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease. It can result in a mild illness (acute hepatitis B) that last several weeks to a serious, life long illness (chronic hepatitis B).

Where is hepatitis B found?
Hepatitis B is found throughout the world. Rates of hepatitis B in the United States have decreased approximately 82 percent since 1990, mostly due to routine vaccination of children against the infection.

What is the difference between hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C?
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.  

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Loss of appetite, tiredness, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting; sometimes rash or joint pain. Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) may be present in adults, but it is often absent in young children. Symptoms vary greatly from none at all to severe illness. Adults have symptoms more often than children
 
How is hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen or other bodily fluids of an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. This can happen in a number of ways:

How can I keep from getting hepatitis B?

1. Parents/guardians should tell anyone who cares for the child regularly that the child has hepatitis B/C. Caregivers should watch the child’s behavior for actions that might be a risk for spreading the virus.
2. Children should not share toothbrushes/pacifiers.
3. Refer to the Kentucky immunization regulations for childhood vaccination schedule for hepatitis B.
4. Cleaning then disinfecting of blood and body fluids spills
a) Surfaces and objects contaminated with blood and body fluids must be cleaned with detergent and water, rinsed with clean water, and then disinfected. Hepatitis B virus, as well as other infectious germs, may be found in these fluids even when there are no symptoms to suggest infection is present
b) Wear disposable gloves when handling blood (nosebleeds, cuts) or items, surfaces or clothing soiled by blood or body fluids
5. Frequent, careful hand washing by child care staff, children and household members. Wash hands immediately after contact with any body fluid, even if gloves have been worn.

If I’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms of hepatitis B can occur anywhere between six weeks and six months after exposure.

What treatments are available for hepatitis B? How serious is the disease?
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. Most doctors recommend rest, proper nutrition and fluids. For people with chronic hepatitis B, medications are available, but not everyone ill with the disease requires medication.

How many cases of hepatitis B have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
The Health Department tracks acute cases of hepatitis B, with an average of 23 cases reported each year. In 2012, 26 cases were reported in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties. In Kentucky, there were 136 cases of hepatitis B in 2010, the most recent data available. When adjusted for population, Kentucky’s 2010 hepatitis B rate was one of the three highest in the nation, behind West Virginia and tied with Oklahoma.

Numbers of chronic hepatitis B cases are not tracked.

Where can I get more information on hepatitis B?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention