Hepatitis B

A vaccine preventable Illness

Identification & Definition

Hepatitis B is a serious disease which causes an inflammation in the liver tissues from the Hepatitis B virus. The disease can occur on any level from mild to acute or chronic Hepatitis infection. Certain drugs, toxins, alcohol abuse, bacterial and viral infections can often cause Hepatitis. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) statistics in 2013 "there were an estimated 19,764 new hepatitis B virus infection in the United States." That statistic is now just over 3 years old and the prevalence of this communicable disease is no doubt still relevant today. Anyone can acquire the Hepatitis B infection, but some people are at greater risk.

History of Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B was found as a disease of the liver as early as the 8th century, by 1885 it was found to be transmissible through blood transfusions and syringes. Throughout WWII (1939-1945) a large amount of outbreaks occurred resulting in many incidences of measles and yellow fever. By 1947 a man by the name of Mar Callum was able to classify hepatitis into two basic categories, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. In 1965 Baruch Blumberg discovered the makings of the viral infection, and after many years and many more scientists by 1981 a vaccine was perfected and produced. Despite the surge in technology and health care availability, about 2,000–4,000 people die every year from Hepatitis B-related liver disease.



Transmission methods

  • Infected mother to infant during birth
  • Sex with infected partner
  • Sharing needles/syringes
  • Sharing razors or toothbrushes with infected person
  • Coming in contact with blood or open sores of infected person


Symptoms are included but not limited to:

  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Scarring of liver (occasionally)
  • Clay-colored bowel movements

Recommended control measures

  • Hepatitis B can be easily prevented by receiving an FDA approved vaccination series of 3 or 4 shots over a 6-month period. The protection of the shots alone last for upwards of twenty years. After receiving all three doses, Hepatitis B vaccine provides greater than 90% protection to infants, children, and adults!
  • Education of high risk behaviors to reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting the infection to others.
  • Regular blood test to high risk patients to establish whether an individual is immune, susceptible, or infected with the Hepatitis B infection.
  • Additional prevention measures can be as simple as washing hands thoroughly, practicing safe sex, avoiding direct contact with bodily fluids, etc.


Health Literacy Video: Hepatitis A and B

Complications of Hepatitis B

  • It is my opinion that having Hepatitis B would sustain as a complication in itself, but if left untreated the disease can begin to further break down your body. The complications of leaving a Hepatitis B infection untreated will be severe, complications such as scarring of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, kidney disease, inflammation of the blood vessels or anemia. With the help of modern day medicine much of these complications can be avoided by immunization of the disease.


  • Complications of the vaccination itself can result in fatigue, pain at injection site, fever, headache, sore throat, and so on. I think that these minor side effects would be much easier to handle than the effects of a full blown Hepatitis B infection.