Facts about hepatitis b

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear” -Buddha

While our century boasts of eradication of a few deadly diseases, there has been an almost equal increase in the number of epidemic diseases over the last few years that have taken lives of thousands. While most attention has been paid to these diseases, people often turn a blind eye to the older, common widespread diseases. One of these includes hepatitis b. Although science has borne us new vaccines and methods that help keep this disease in control, it is always smatter and better to be informed about the disease and its occurrence.

As is said, “better safe, than sorry.”

Here are a few facts about hepatitis b

1. The hepatitis b viron was first visualized by Dane and his colleagues in 1970 but electron microscopic examination of a patient’s sera. It is thus called the Dane particle.
The Dane particle is a spherical double stranded DNA virus that’s the causative for hepatitis b.

2. The virus attacks the liver and may result in either chronic or acute hepatitis b.
Acute hepatitis b may last for 6 to 8 months and the virus is passed on by unsafe sexual practices and blood transfusion. Most often, healthy adults develop antibiodies to fight this disease. In the absence of these antibodies, the disease may last for longer than 6 months and is then referred to as chronic hepatitis b.

3. Transmission of the disease.
Hepatitis b is classified as one among the many sexually transmitted diseases. The virus spreads through contact of body fluids. The most major transmission methods include unprotected coitus, unsterile syringes and blood transfer from an affected patient. Sharing toothbrushes with the diseased may also lead to spread of the virus.

4. Symptoms of the disease.
The most common symptoms shown by patients affected with hepatitis b include fever and tiredness. Further, the person may feel discomfort on the side of their body where the liver is present. The patient may also experience nausea and vomiting.

5. The hepatitis virus is almost 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus.

6. Vaccinations for the disease.
The infection caused from hepatitis b virus can be prevented by being vaccinated against it. The initial vaccination for infants is given as a set of three shots. The first injection may be given at any time after the birth of the baby. The second dose is given one month after the first, and the third six months after the first. Following these three shots, the vaccine may be administered once in every three years.

7. The incubation period for hepatitis b varies from 6 to 180 days.
The surface antigen of this virus appears in the human sera several weeks before the onset of the disease. The incubation period of the hepatitis B virus depends on the amount of virus initially introduced or inoculated in to the subject’s body. When the inoculation dosage is small, incubation period may last longer.

8. Pathogenesis of the disease.
Though not certain, it has been believed that the virus attack causes a suppression of the immune system in the body of the diseased patient. The virus, on entering the body, first reaches the liver. During its incubation period, it undergoes continuous replication within the hepatocytes or liver cells. As these viruses replicate and grow larger in number, they mask the action of B and T immune cells thus bringing an overall decrease in the immunity of the affected patient.

9. The hepatitis b virus can survive outside the body for a period of at least 7 days.

10. Diagnosis of hepatitis b.
Diagnosis of hepatitis b may he carried out either by means on blood tests or liver biopsy. The affected blood shows the presence of hepatitis b virus, indicating an infection by the same. Liver biopsy is an equally effective method used in the diagnosis of hepatitis b.

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