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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus. It is spread via infected blood and body fluids, although there is also an extremely small risk of contracting it through blood transfusions. Sexually active teenagers may be at particular risk for the disease, as are users of non-sterilized needles and syringes.

Signs and Symptoms

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus. Some people who are infected with the hepatitis B virus never feel sick. Others have symptoms that might last for several weeks. Those symptoms can include:

  • loss of appetite and tiredness
  • pains in muscles, joints or stomach
  • diarrhea or vomiting
  • yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)

This is called "acute" hepatitis B.

It can also cause long-term (chronic) illness that leads to:

  • liver damage (cirrhosis)
  • liver cancer
  • death

What You Can Do

You can protect children from hepatitis B by getting them vaccinated with three doses of hepatitis B vaccine.

Last Updated
Immunizations &Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent's Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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