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What is Hepatitis B?

Context:

A series of unexplained cases of Hepatitis B in children has taken over the world. Many countries including the US and UK reported mysterious cases of a few children being diagnosed with Hepatitis B.

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Hepatitis B?
  2. How does hepatitis B virus spread?
  3. Symptoms of Hepatitis B
  4. What is adenovirus and how is it leading to Hepatitis B in children?

What is Hepatitis B?

  • Hepatitis B is an infection in the liver which happens because of the Hepatitis B virus or HBV.
  • The virus usually spreads through blood, semen or other body fluids.
  • It can be prevented or protected against through vaccination.
  • When it is acute, the virus lasts a small time and doesn’t always necessarily need treatments although it can get serious and lead to life-threatening diseases like organ scarring, liver failure and even cancer.

How does hepatitis B virus spread?

The virus is found in the blood or certain body fluids and is spread when blood or body fluid from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can occur in a variety of ways including:

  • Unprotected sexual contact
  • Sharing drugs, needles, or “works” when using drugs
  • Poor infection control practices in medical settings
  • Sharing of blood sugar (diabetes) testing equipment
  • Needle sticks or sharps exposures on the job
  • From mother to baby during birth
  • Contact with wounds or skin sores
  • When an infected person bites another person
  • Pre-chewing food for babies
  • Sharing personal-care items, such as razors or toothbrushes

Hepatitis B virus particles can be found on objects, even in the absence of visible blood. The virus can remain infectious and capable of spreading infection for at least seven days outside the human body. Hepatitis B will not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing, and sneezing or by casual contact, such as in an office or factory setting.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • fatigue that lasts for weeks or even months
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in joints or belly

There is a fair chance that the symptoms are not visible for one to six months since you catch the virus.

What is adenovirus and how is it leading to Hepatitis B in children?

  • Adenovirus is a group of viruses that commonly cause cold or flu-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, acute inflammation of the stomach, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.
  • Adenovirus is known to spread from one person to another through close contact, coughing, sneezing and even by touching an object containing adenovirus and then further touching the mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Type 41 adenovirus is suspected of causing Hepatitis B in children.
  • While there are more than 50 types of adenoviruses, it is type 41 that causes diarrhoea, vomiting and fever along with respiratory problems.

-Source: The Hindu


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