The hepatitis B virus primarily interferes with the functions of the liver by replicating in liver cells, known as hepatocytes.
Transmission of hepatitis B virus results from exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood.
Possible forms of transmission include (but are not limited to) unprotected sexual contact, blood transfusions, re-use of contaminated needles & syringes, and vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth.
Signs & symptoms acute viral hepatitis
- General ill-health
- Loss of appetite
- Body aches
- Mild fever
- Dark urine
- Serum or blood tests that detect either viral antigens (proteins produced by the virus) or antibodies produced by the host
- Detection of HBS- AG antigen, Anti-HBS antibodies, Anti HBC antibodies in the blood or serum sample
- More recently, PCR tests have been developed to detect and measure the amount of viral load in blood sample, used to assess a person's infection status and to monitor treatment
- Acute hepatitis B infection does not usually require treatment because most adults clear the infection spontaneously
- Early antiviral like Lamivudine, Adefovir, may only be required in less than 1% of patients, whose infection takes a very aggressive course like cirrhosis, chronic symptomatic carrier, liver cancer, etc
- The role Interferon’s is emerging as first choice along with the antiviral for the aggressive course.
Future of the Disease
Hepatitis B virus infection may either be acute (self-limiting) or chronic (long-standing). Persons with self-limiting infection clear the infection spontaneously within weeks to months.
Children are less likely than adults to clear the infection.
More than 95% of people who become infected as adults or older children will stage a full recovery and develop protective immunity to the virus.
However, only 5% of newborns that acquire the infection from their mother at birth will clear the infection. This population has a 40% lifetime risk of death from cirrhosis or carcinoma.