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Hepatitis B vaccine : what you need to know
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  • Description:
    Hepatitis B is a serious infection that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus. • In 2009, about 38,000 people became infected with hepatitis B. • Each year about 2,000 to 4,000 people die in the United States from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can cause: Acute (short-term) illness. This can lead to: • loss of appetite • diarrhea and vomiting • tiredness • jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) • pain in muscles, joints, and stomach Acute illness, with symptoms, is more common among adults. Children who become infected usually do not have symptoms. Chronic (long-term) infection. Some people go on to develop chronic hepatitis B infection. Most of them do not have symptoms, but the infection is still very serious, and can lead to: • liver damage (cirrhosis) • liver cancer • death Chronic infection is more common among infants and children than among adults. People who are chronically infected can spread hepatitis B virus to others, even if they don’t look or feel sick. Up to 1.4 million people in the United States may have chronic hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B virus is easily spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also be infected from contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. • A baby whose mother is infected can be infected at birth; • Children, adolescents, and adults can become infected by: - contact with blood and body fluids through breaks in the skin such as bites, cuts, or sores; - contact with objects that have blood or body fluids on them such as toothbrushes, razors, or monitoring and treatment devices for diabetes; - having unprotected sex with an infected person; - sharing needles when injecting drugs; - being stuck with a used needle.
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