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Hepatitis B

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

Possible routes of the 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 (for example, mouth and eyes) coming into contact with blood or body fluids
  • using toothbrushes or razors that have been contaminated by an infected person, and
  • a new born baby can be infected by a mother carrying the virus

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

Precautionary measures

  • never share needles or syringes
  • use a condom when having sex
  • don’t share razors or toothbrushes
  • if you are having any tattoos, acupuncture, electrolysis or your body pierced, always go to registered practitioners, ask to see their Certificate of Registration issued by Department
  • close contacts and people in occupations where they may come into contact with infected persons should seek medical advice as vaccination may be appropriate
  • blood or body fluid spillages should be cleaned up using protective gloves and disinfectant, and
  • follow safety advice if you work in contact with blood or blood products

Diagnosed Hepatitis B or a carrier

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

  • 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
  • don't give blood
  • don't 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, and
  • cover any cuts or abrasions immediately

Your doctor will want to repeat blood tests and check on your health.

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