Editor’s Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. MeAndMyDoctor.com will post a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured will include: Flu, Measles, Pneumococcal disease, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Chickenpox and shingles, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis A, Rubella (also known as German measles), Rotavirus, Polio, Mumps, and Tetanus.TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians’ efforts to raise immunization awareness.In this short video, Marilyn M. Doyle, MD, an Austin pediatrician and Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leader, breaks down the severity of Hepatitis B, the age groups most affected by the infection, and why vaccinating is the best form of prevention.Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. Anyone can contract the virus if any bodily fluid from a person infected with the virus – like blood or semen – enters another person’s body. This can happen through sexual contact, sharing needles, or an infected mother passing it to her baby at birth. Hepatitis B can either be short-term (acute) or long term (chronic). Those suffering from the acute stage often don’t show symptoms, so they can spread the disease unknowingly. Infected people who do have symptoms can experience fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, a light-colored stool, or yellowish skin. Whether a person experiences symptoms or not, the acute stage of hepatitis B lasts about six months.Age plays a factor on whether a case of hepatitis B becomes long-term. Nearly 90% of infected infants suffer chronic infection, compared to 2% to 6 % of adults. In many cases, chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of the liver) or liver failure. It can even be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of new hepatitis B infections dropped by 89% from 1991, when routine vaccination of children was first recommended. The number of reported cases dropped from approximately 8,000 cases in 2000 to nearly 3,200 cases in 2016. However, thvideoe CDC reports an increase in injection drug use is causing the rate of new infections to rise once again.Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid hepatitis B. Infants are recommended to receive a three-dose series: one at birth, another at 1-2 months, and again at 6 months. The CDC recommends unvaccinated adults and adolescents receive a two-or three-dose series depending on the vaccine. Currently, there are six different vaccines in the U.S. against this disease.
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