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Hepatitis B

a.k.a Hebee

A nasty bug which infects the liver and is passed on through bodily fluids. Look out for flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain and yellow skin and eyes.

Key Fact

Every year, more than half a million people die from the complications of Hepatitis B infection.1

disease risk map

How do people catch the disease?

Hepatitis B is spread in blood and body fluids. It is caught through unprotected sex with someone infected with the virus, or through exposure to contaminated blood (for example, while injecting drugs).1

It can also be caught by sharing toothbrushes or razors, or having body piercing or tattoos using unsterilised equipment.1,3

Which countries are affected?

Hepatitis B is found in every country, but the risk is higher in South America, Africa, Russia and Asia (see map).2

What are the symptoms?

Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen.1

How serious is the disease?

Hepatitis B is a serious disease. Though the initial symptoms generally pass within months, the virus can cause long-term and potentially fatal liver damage.1

New treatments can keep the virus under control and reduce this risk.

Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

  • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
  • Don’t have unprotected sex (e.g. use condoms)1
  • Don’t share equipment to inject drugs3
  • Have tattoos and body piercing only where you can be sure equipment has been sterilised1,3
  • Don’t share personal items that could be contaminated with blood3

References:

1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Hepatitis B. July 2017. Available online: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/ (Last accessed September 2017)

2. World Health Organization. Hepatitis B, countries or areas at risk. 2012. Available online: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_HepB_ITHRiskMap.png (Last accessed September 2017)

3. NHS Choices. Conditions. Hepatitis B. March 2016. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hepatitis-B/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Last accessed September 2017)

 

UK/TRA/0817/0171n September 2017