Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver transmitted by contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected individual. It is most common in certain parts of the world; India, Russia, Eastern Europe, China, South and Central America, South-East Asia and south pacific islands.
People with Hepatitis B very rarely realize they have any symptoms and with a very delayed onset, it makes it even more difficult to establish what could be causing the symptoms. The symptoms are quite common to many illnesses, with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite being the most noticeable features of infection. Later on patients may become jaundiced however this is not apparent in darker skinned individuals.
Individuals who become chronically infected i.e. become carriers, can end up with liver cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
For the acute symptoms of Hepatitis B there is no specific treatment, rather the symptoms are treated individually. For chronic infections treatment comes in the form of preventative treatment to ensure the condition doesn’t develop into cirrhosis or cancer, and also to control the infectiousness.
Hepatitis B is often associated with risky behavior such as sharing needles, unprotected sex etc. Those most at risk are those that undertake:
Hepatitis B can also be transferred between mother and baby. If it is a condition from birth then that patient will require lifetime monitoring.
In order to prevent contracting Hepatitis B travellers should avoid contact with blood and other bodily fluids by:
The Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all people whether or not they are travelling abroad. The vaccination schedule is a series of 3 vaccinations at £20 each given on different dates. For more information please contact the pharmacy team on 02089021328.