Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem. It can cause chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.Symptoms: Most people do not experience any symptoms during the acute infection phase. However, some people have acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Causes:The virus also can pass from a mother to her newborn child at birth or soon afterward. Most adults with hepatitis B get better, but a small percentage can't shake the disease and become carriers, which means they can spread it to others even when their own symptoms disappear.Diagnosis: Laboratory diagnosis of hepatitis B infection focuses on the detection of the hepatitis B surface antigen HBsAg. Acute HBV infection is characterized by the presence of HBsAg and immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody to the core antigen, HBcAg. The presence of HBeAg indicates that the blood and body fluids of the infected individual are highly contagious.
Treatment: care is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea.Statistics: Acute infection is clinically recognised in only a small proportion of cases; less that 10% of children and 30-50% of adults show icteric disease. Following acute HBV infection, the risk of developing chronic infection varies inversely with age. Chronic HBV infection occurs among about 90% of infants infected at birth, 25-50% of children infected at 1-5 years of ageand about 1-10% of persons infected as older children and adults. An estimated 15-25% of persons with chronic HBV infection will die prematurely of either cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma.