Kolkata: Hepatitis B infection can lead to Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer. It is estimated that there are more than 300 million carriers of the hepatitis B virus in the world, with over 500,000 dying annually from hepatitis B-related liver disease.
On the eve of World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, Director of the Department of Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur Dr. Debasis Datta said, there are several ways to become infected with hepatitis B virus.
Using contaminated needles can spread the hepatitis B virus. This includes tattooing, acupuncture, and ear piercing (if these procedures are performed with contaminated instruments). Sharing needles or syringes can also spread the virus.
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Sexual contact with someone who is infected is one of the most common ways to become infected with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B can be passed from a mother to her baby during or shortly after delivery. Having a Cesarean delivery does not prevent the virus from spreading. Breastfeeding, however, is believed to be safe.
During pregnancy, all women should have a blood test for a marker of hepatitis B virus, called hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).
Hepatitis B can be spread through close personal contact. This could happen if blood or other bodily fluids get into tiny cracks or breaks in the skin or in mouth or eyes. The virus can live for a long time away from the body, meaning that it can be spread by sharing household items like toys, toothbrushes, or razors.
Nowadays, it is extremely rare for hepatitis B to be spread through blood transfusion or organ transplantation. Blood and organ donors are carefully screened for markers of hepatitis infection.
In the hospital, the hepatitis B virus can spread from one patient to another or from a patient to a doctor or nurse if there is an accidental needle stick.