Hepatitis B Causes:
- Chronic Hepatitis
- Liver Failure
- Liver Cancers
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus. It attacks the liver and the liver becomes swollen and inflamed. The Acuteform of the disease is rarely fatal, but victims often require a stay in hospital and need several weeks recovery before they are fit to return to work.
Chronic Hepatitis B, which occurs in 5-10% of those infected, is a very serious condition which can lead to irreversible liver damage and liver cancer over a period of time. It is well recognized that infection with Hepatitis B during infancy and early childhood frequently progress to the chronic carrier state.
It is preventable by using a safe and effective vaccine.
Unfortunately, nothing easily can be done to reverse or stop the progress of this disease once a person has become infected.
HOW DO YOU CATCH HEPATITIS B?
The Hepatitis B virus can be found in many fluids such as sweat, tears, saliva, semen and vaginal secretions. The infected blood is the most common route the virus is transmitted from one person to another. For transmission to occur there must be contact between the infectious secretions, cut or abraded skin or mucous membranes. The main risk of infection is from chronic carriers who does not look or feel ill but whose blood and body secretions are infectious to others. The virus can also remain live outside the body for long periods unlike HIV which can only survive for a matter of minutes. It is therefore a particular risk factor if contact with used needles or clinical waste occurs.
WHY ARE HEALTHCARE STAFF AT A HIGHER RISK THAN THE GENERAL POPULATION?
Staff in healthcare and in learning disability environments are at a particular risk of exposure to Hepatitis B since it is more common in people with a learning disability. They are in close contact with the disposal of patients contaminated blood and bodily fluids which are potentially infectious material from unidentified origins. This is why staff are at a higher risk of catching the disease as infected blood can get into your body from a bite and through a small scratch from sharp objects such as syringes.
HOW CAN HEPATITIS B BE PREVENTED?
Active Immunisation is recommended and consists of three injection vaccines of Hepatitis B intramuscularly into the arm. A blood test will also be taken two months after the full course of injections.For most people the immunization is effective, however:
o Some people do not respond fully to the first course and need a booster injection.
o Some people do not respond to the first course and need another course of vaccine.
o Some people will have had the virus and are immune and need no further vaccination.
This safe vaccine has existed for over 10 years and has been administered to millions of people preventing Hepatitis B infection. Department of Health and EU regulation recommend that all healthcare staff are vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
- Hibernian Healthcare request each recipient to sign a consent form that they were offered vaccination and accepted or declined
- The vaccination schedule is at months 0, 1 and 6
- A blood sample should be taken 2 months after the 3rd vaccination to check immunity. A copy of the blood tests should be retained for your records.
- Once the hepatitis b levels are satisfactory, a blood test is required every 5 years to check the Hepatitis B status levels.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF HEPATITIS VACCINATION?
A Vaccine, like any other medicine, is capable of causing an allergic reaction. The risk of a serious reaction to Hepatitis vaccine is very small. Mild problems that occur are soreness where the shot was given, chills, headaches and muscle pains. Any serious reactions usually occur within a few minutes of inoculation. This reaction can happen with nearly any medication. This is the main reason why your vaccination is given by a trained medical team who are fully equipped to deal with this type of situation and who have emergency medications at hand.
WHO WILL KNOW THE RESULTS OF THE BLOOD TESTS?
All Information will be treated with absolute confidentiality. Your GP will assess the results of the tests and the participants will be told their results too. If anyone is found to have the infection, their GP will be notified so that follow up measures can be provided to the person and their family.
Please contact the office on 01-4604820 to find out more