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Hepatitis B

Karl Fischer tyr-2 at bones.biochem.ualberta.ca
Sat Dec 9 18:18:00 EST 1995

In article <4aa4rr$ece at suba01.suba.com>, Uncle Fester <savand at suba.com> wrote:

> I once read that the Hepatitis B virus is reaching epidemic proportions.

No. There are countries where it is endemic but there is no indication of
an epidemic.
> From what I understand it's easily transmitted sexually and orally,

HBV can be transmitted sexually but the vast majority of transmission in
developed countries is iatrogenic (sharing dirty needles, needle-stick
accidents, etc.) where blood is transmitted.  In countries where HBV is
endemic, transmission to infants from an infected mother (carrier) is
thought to occur through breast milk and/or maternal saliva. This is the
only instance I've heard  of HBV transmission through oral contact.

> symptoms aren't visible until just before liver failure. 

An emphatic NO!! Symptoms of viral hepatitis are present in
acutely-infected patients (excluding asymptomatic infections) and 
hepatitic failure is NOT a normal consequence of viral hepatitis. If you
wish to know the symptom profile of the prodromal, icteric and
convalescent phases of hepatitis B infection I suggest you ask your

> Am I correct in that immunization exists, but it's three separate series 
> of shots that cost over $200? 

Yes. There is a HBV vaccine (Engerix - normal disclaimers) which is
administered at 0,1, and 3 or 6 months. I have no information at hand to
substantiate the cost estimate you gave.


Karl the hep B guy

Karl Fischer
tyr-2 at bones.biochem.ualberta.ca

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