Hepatitis B

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Definition

noun

A form of hepatitis that is caused by Hepatitis B virus (HBV), which can persist in the blood of its host (thus, is associated with a long incubation period), and may spread through contact with contaminated blood and blood products (transfusions), sexual contact, or by mother-to-infant route


Supplement

The inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis. There are many causes of hepatitis and one of them is viral infection. There are five major viruses that are of medical concern: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E.

Hepatitis B is a viral hepatitis caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) (i.e. from genus Orthohepadnavirus). It spreads mainly through contact with contaminated blood and blood products. Thus, it is formerly called serum hepatitis. It may also be transmitted by sexual contact or by mother-to-infant route. It is also formerly called long incubation hepatitis based on the longer incubation period (generally 30-180 days, usually 60-90) compared to hepatitis A (15-45 days, mean 30). Hepatitis B can cause a much more severe infection than hepatitis A and can occur as an asymptomatic carrier state, a chronic infection or as cirrhosis of the liver. Those at risk (IV drug abusers, health care workers, dialysis patients, transfusion recipients, homosexuals) should be immunised with hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine may provide protection from HBV infection and may last a lifetime.


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