Be Alert Against Hepatitis B
you should know about this serious viral disease of the liver.
Hepatitis B is a serious viral disease that affects the liver.
While about 50 percent of infected adults may show symptoms in
the initial stage of hepatitis infection (acute stage), young
children often do not show any symptoms of the disease at all.
The symptoms of acute illness resulting from hepatitis B
infection may include:
There may also be pain in the upper right region of the abdomen.
In a small percentage of cases, the infection may lead to
progressive liver failure.
Up to 12 percent of infected adults and90 percent of infected
newborns may carry the virus in their system for many years
without even knowing it. Such carriers of the disease pose a
health risk to others by spreading the disease, as well as
significantly increasing their own risk of developing hepatitis
(inflammation of the liver) and primary liver cancer later in
It has been estimated that 350 million people worldwide are
hepatitis B virus carriers, two million of whom die each year.
In Malaysia, the carrier rate is estimated at 3 to 5 percent of
the population, or about one million individuals.
How Hepatitis B spreads
Hepatitis B is found in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva and
semen, of carriers without symptoms as well as those showing
symptoms of the disease. It can be transmitted in a number of
different ways, including:
Contaminated needles and syringes (either during drug use or
through needle stick injuries)
Sexual intercourse (especially homosexual practices)
Mother-to-newborn infection during the birthing process
Blood-to-blood contact (through open injuries)
Non-sterile instruments such as those used for body piercing
To a lesser extent, sharing personal items such as
toothbrushes or razors.
The most effective way of preventing the spread of hepatitis B
is through vaccination.
Vaccination is especially important in the following high-risk
People exposed to the virus as a result of their
occupation, such as healthcare workers, emergency service
personnel, police or embalmers.