Can Hepatitis B infection be prevented?
Q: Two years ago, I donated my blood at a hospital. I wanted to know the status of my blood, so I visited the hospital after a week. The doctor told me that my blood was not used because it had minor hepatitis B infection and was therefore destroyed. I asked the doctor for treatment, to which he said that there is nothing to worry as this is only a minor problem. He also said that it may or may not create any problems in future. However, I was advised that by other doctors that I should get my blood tested. I got my blood test done. Seeing the report, the doctor said that there is nothing to worry as it is a minor infections and advised me to go for hepatitis vaccination. I took all three vaccinations simultaneously. I made my wife and children also take all these vaccinations. But will this affect us in future?
A:Hepatitis B is a serious disease as the hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause short-term (acute) illness that leads to loss of appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting, tiredness, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), pain in muscles, joints, and stomach. More importantly it can also cause long-term (chronic) illness that leads to liver damage (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. The virus is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person. A person can get infected in several ways - such as by having unprotected sex with an infected person, by sharing needles, by being stuck with a used needle on the job or during birth when the virus passes from an infected mother to her baby. Nearly 1/3 of people who are infected with hepatitis B don’t know how they got it. People should get 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine. If you miss a dose or get behind schedule, get the next dose as soon as you can. There is no need to start over. First dose (day 0), second dose 2-3 months later and third dose 4-6 months later. The second dose must be given at least 1 month after the first dose while the third dose must be given at least 2 months after the second dose and at least 4 months after the first. To know if one is adequately protected, get anti-HBs antibodies tested. If they are >10 units, one is protected.