What Virus Causes Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is a DNA virus belonging to the Hepadnaviridae family. It primarily infects the liver and can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis. HBV is transmitted through contact with infected blood or body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, or saliva.

Common modes of transmission of hepatitis B include:

  • Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.
  • Sharing needles or syringes contaminated with infected blood (common among intravenous drug users).
  • Mother-to-child transmission during childbirth (from an infected mother to her baby).
  • Exposure to contaminated blood or blood products (less common in regions where blood screening is routinely performed).
  • Sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors, contaminated with infected blood.
  • HBV infection can range from being asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) to causing acute hepatitis with symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine. In some cases, acute HBV infection can progress to chronic hepatitis B, which can lead to serious liver complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

Prevention of hepatitis B includes vaccination, practicing safe sex, avoiding sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia, and implementing universal precautions in healthcare settings to prevent transmission.

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