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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infectious illness caused by the Hepatitis B virus. Symptoms include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, rash, jaundice, dark-coloured urine and abdominal pain. These symptoms can last for a number of months.

Causes

Possible routes of infection are:

  • using contaminated needles to inject drugs
  • having unprotected sexual intercourse
  • tattooing, acupuncture, electrolysis and body-piercing equipment if not sterilised properly before use
  • open wounds contaminated by blood or body fluids
  • the body’s mucous membranes (eg. mouth and eyes) coming into contact with blood or body fluids
  • using toothbrushes or razors that have been contaminated by an infected person
  • a┬ánewborn baby can be infected by a mother carrying the virus

How it is spread

It is spread when a person comes into contact directly or indirectly with an infected person.

Precautions

  • never share needles or syringes
  • use a condom when having sex
  • don’t share razors or toothbrushes
  • if you are having a tattoo, acupuncture, electrolysis or your body pierced, always go to a registered practitioner
  • use protective gloves and disinfectant to clean up blood or body fluid spillages
  • follow safety advice if you work with blood or blood products

What to do if you get Hepatitis B

If you have been diagnosed as having Hepatitis B or are a carrier, it is very important that you look after your own health and take steps to prevent it being passed on:

  • follow the precautionary measures listed above
  • if you are going to the doctor, dentist or acupuncturist, tell them you have Hepatitis B so that safety measures can be taken
  • do not give blood
  • do not undergo chiropody, be tattooed, have your body pierced or use electrolysis until you have been cleared
  • take care to clean up blood spillages if you cut yourself
  • cover any cuts or abrasions immediately
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