HEPATITIS B

 

Causative organism Hepatitis B virus
Incubation period 45-180 days (mean 60 days)
How far back to trace 6 months prior to onset of acute symptoms
Usual testing method Serology for hepatitis B
Common symptoms Jaundice, malaise, abdominal pain, dark urine
Likelihood of transmission per act of unprotected intercourse Unknown
Likelihood of long-term sexual partner being infected >20%
Protective effect of condoms High
Transmission by oral sex Low
Duration of potential infectivity Two weeks before onset of symptomsand until the patient becomes surface antigen negative; lifelong if chronic infection
Important sequelae Severe, acute hepatitis, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer
Direct benefit of detection and treatment of contacts Passive and active immunisation against hepatitis B or detection and management of hepatitis B infection
Usual management of contacts

Counselling and testing (up to 12 weeks after exposure)
Passive and active vaccination against hepatitis B
If high risk of transmission (index patient e-antigen positive, unprotected sex or needle-stick exposure) consider referral and treatment

Contact tracing priority High for sexual contacts, needle-sharing contacts, a newborn child of an infected mother, and household and close contacts if any risk exposures
Notification Acute viral hepatitis B is notifiable by doctors in all Australian states and territories, and New Zealand Hepatitis B surface antigen-positive results must be notified by laboratories in NSW
Note: Hepatitis D virus (delta agent) is a deficient virus that is entirely dependent on concurrent hepatitis B infection. Measures to control hepatitis B should control HDV.

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