Hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections cause irritation and swelling of the liver. You should take steps to prevent catching or spreading these viruses since these infections can cause chronic liver disease.
All children should get the hepatitis B vaccine.
Adults at high risk for hepatitis B should also be vaccinated, including:
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis B and C viruses are spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person with the virus. The viruses are not spread through casual contact, such as holding hands, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, breastfeeding, kissing, hugging, coughing, or sneezing.
To avoid coming in contact with blood or bodily fluids of others:
All people who have sex outside of a monogamous relationship should practice safer sex behaviors to avoid hepatitis B and C.
Screening of all donated blood has reduced the chance of getting hepatitis B from a blood transfusion. People newly diagnosed with hepatitis B infection should be reported to state health care workers to track the population's exposure to the virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine, or a hepatitis immune globulin (HBIG) shot, may help prevent infection if it is received it within 24 hours of contact with the virus.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 through 18 years and adults aged 19 years and older -- United States, 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR. January 28, 2013.
Perrillo R. Hepatitis B and D. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 78.
Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 151.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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