Prevention of Hepatitis B infection
Advancing science and technology has made management and diagnosis of many diseases really easy for us but at the same time it has also led to the identification of a number of new infectious agents and diseases too. Detailed study on various infectious agents has lead to the finding that some infectious agents are choosy as per what tissue they want to destroy.
One such group is of Hepatitis viruses that includes many notable viruses like Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E and G. However, among all the viruses, most deadly and popular virus is Hepatitis B, which is known to cause large number of infections and deaths throughout the world.
What causes Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a virus that is incapable of maintaining its independent existence outside the body and can only cause disease when it is transferred by body secretions or fluids like semen and blood. Some important risk factors for Hepatitis B virus are:
By sexual route:
Unprotected sex, multiple sex partners and having a partner who is involved in risky sexual practices are at highest risk of developing Hepatitis B infection, as virus is secreted in vaginal fluids and semen.
How to prevent?
- Risk of transmitting or acquiring infection is increased during menstrual period, so intercourse during this period must be avoided.
- Dangerous and risky sexual behavior must be avoided at all times and barrier method or condoms must be used in any such casual encounter.
- In case of any vaginal infection or damaged lining or open wound, avoid intercourse as it increases the risk of transmission.
Use of infected blood products:
Infected blood products refer to blood contaminated with Hepatitis B virus. People with Hepatitis B infection must not donate blood. People who are vulnerable to catch infection by this mode are victims of accidents or Thalassemia (and other blood cancers) who require frequent blood transfusions.
How to Prevent:
Always use screened blood products and do not accept transfusion until you see clearance certificate.
Intravenous drug abuse:
Intravenous drug abusers or people using shared needles are also at elevated risk of catching infection by viral introduction with the blood.
How to Prevent:
- Always dispose all the needles and surgical products properly to avoid the risk of abuse.
- Always check needle and injections before using and do not use any needle that has already been used by someone else.
It refers to transmission of infection from mother to child at the time of delivery. It is perhaps the most dangerous type and progression of infection is very fast in all such poor newborns. It is therefore recommended to screen all mothers for Hepatitis B infection during ante-natal period.
How to prevent?
- If it is identified that mother is suffering from Hepatitis B infection, it is best to perform Cesarean section at 36th week in order to avoid transmission of infection at the time of delivery.
- All these women must start anti-hepatitis B therapy during delivery to prevent transmission.
- Nursing is mostly not indicated in such mothers and it is better to start formula in such babies.
- Apart from that, Hepatitis B vaccine provides protection to everyone and so must be taken.