Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer.1 Clinical symptoms occur more commonly in adults than in infants and children, who may be asymptomatic.2 Symptoms usually last for several weeks but can persist for up to 6 months.3 Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of someone infected with the virus.1 Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: approximately 90% of infected infants become chronically infected, compared with approximately 5% of adults.2,3
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stool
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (white of eyes and skin become yellowish)
Hepatitis B Risk-Based Recommendations for Adults 60 years and older
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with hepatitis C
- People with diabetes
- People with HIV infection
- Persons at risk for infection by percutaneous or mucosal exposure to blood, including household contacts of persons infected with hepatitis B, residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons, and health care and public safety workers with risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Dialysis or pre-dialysis patients
- Current or recent injection drug use
- Travel in countries with high or intermediate enemic hepatitis B
- Incarcerated persons
- Sexual exposure risk
Please refer to the CDC's Pink Book and the ACIP Schedule for the complete hepatitis B recommendation.
ACIP=Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Facts About Hepatitis B
The clinical course of acute hepatitis B is indistinguishable from other types of acute viral hepatitis. The incubation period typically ranges from 60 to 90 days. Approximately 50% of adults who have acute infections are asymptomatic.2
Adults with diabetes have a 60% higher prevalence of past or present hepatitis B virus infection and twice the odds of acquiring acute hepatitis B compared with adults without diabetes. Repeated outbreaks of hepatitis B have been associated with assisted blood glucose monitoring, underscoring the continued risk for this population. Data also suggest the possibility that persons with diabetes who are acutely infected with the hepatitis B virus may have a higher case-fatality proportion compared with those without diabetes.5
Many patients may not know that there are vaccines recommended for them to help protect against certain diseases. You can help educate patients about these vaccine-preventable diseases, and explain why it’s important for them to be up to date on their vaccinations.
References: 1. Hepatitis B. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed October 12, 2021. Accessed July 14, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/index.htm 2. Hall E., Wodi A.P., Hamborsky J, et al., eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 14th ed. Public Health Foundation, 2021. Reviewed July 1, 2019. Accessed February 1, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/index.html. 3. Hepatitis B questions and answers for health professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed March 30, 2022. Accessed May 12, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/hbvfaq.htm 4. Weng MK, Doshani M, Khan MA, et al. Universal hepatitis B vaccination in adults aged 19–59 years: updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2022. MMWR. 2022;71:477-483. 5. Schillie S, Vellozzi C, Reingold A, et al. Prevention of hepatitis B virus infection in the United States: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR. 2018;67(RR-1):1–31.