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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is one type of hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is spread by having contact with an infected person's blood, semen or other body fluid. An infected woman can transmit hepatitis B to her baby during childbirth.

Individuals with HBV may feel as if they have the flu, or they may have no symptoms at all. A blood test can determine if an individual has HBV. Patients usually get better on their own after a few months. If the individual does not get better, they are said to have chronic HBV, which can last a lifetime. Chronic HBV can lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure or liver cancer.

HBV can be prevented with a vaccine. Treatment requires three shots. All babies should be vaccinated, but older children and adults can also be vaccinated if necessary. Individuals traveling to countries where Hepatitis B is common should be vaccinated.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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