Imagine that one morning you wake up feeling very tired and weak. Your sick to your stomach, have a high fever, and on top of all of that, your stools, eyes, skin and urine have all become a yellowish tint.
You figure that it will go away on it?s own and that it is really no big deal at all. But lately you have been feeling very tired and not had the appetite you usually hold. You then go to a doctor to see what?s wrong, and how he can stop this very strange thing that is taking place inside your body.
He tells you that these are all symptoms of Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver that makes it swell and can stop it from working right. All you can think about is, how could you have gotten it. Was it from having sex without wearing a condom? Or using dirty drug or body piercing needles? Maybe it was from using an infected friends toothbrush or razor?
Hepatitis B is a virus. It messes up your liver and makes it very unhealthy. You need a healthy liver because your liver fights infections and other health hazards in your body. It removes unwanted wastes from the blood and stores energy for when you need it.
The virus can be transferred person to person by having sex with an infected person without the use of a condom. Using dirty drug, body piercing, and tattoo needles can also cause it. Sharing a toothbrush or razor and getting pricked by a needle with the blood of a Hepatitis B holder are two more ways to catch the unwanted virus.
The virus can be treated by a drug called interferon. It is given through shots, and most people are treated for 4 months. In heavier cases surgery is nessecary. The surgery involves a liver transplant, which means you will have your failing liver replaced by that of a donor.
In 1991 and estimated $700 million dollars of medical work and money was lost due to this virus. In the United States, the incidence of this disease is from 140,000-320,000 infections per year. 8,400-19,000 of these people are hospitalized each year, and nearly 140-320 (0.2%) of them will die.
But prevention of this disease is available! In 1982 they came out with a vaccine for Hepatitis B. The vaccine consists of three shots taken within 6 months. You must receive all shots to a sure prevention. Also screening of pregnant women and blood/tissue/organ donors has been done to stop a spread to others. You can also stay away from getting this virus if you just keep in mind the basic cautions:
-Don?t have sex without a condom
-Make sure all needles are clean before using them
-Stay away from using anyone?s razor or toothbrush
You can?t catch Hepatitis B from being around infected people. It is only spread through fluids.
-National Notifiable Diseases
-Viral Hepatitis Program
-Sentinel Counties Studies