Hepatitis B is a virus that can infect the liver. It can spread through infected blood, semen, and other body fluids during sex and when people share needles to inject drugs. It can also spread when an infected person shares items that may have blood on them, such as a razor or toothbrush. Needles used for tattoos, body piercing, or acupuncture can spread hepatitis B if they are not cleaned properly.
After your child is infected, it may be 1 to 6 months before you see symptoms. Or symptoms may be so mild that you don't notice them. But your child can infect other people both before and after symptoms start.
The virus can cause tiredness, a fever, and nausea. Your child may vomit and have light-coloured stools, and dark urine. His or her skin and eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice.
Most people get better in several weeks, but it can take several months. Children are more likely than adults to have the virus stay in their bodies (become chronically infected). If the virus stays in your child's body for a long time, it can cause serious liver disease. After your child has had the virus and feels better, he or she will not get it again.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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