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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Hepatitis B – acute and chronic infections

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects the liver. HBV is spread through infected blood and body fluids. Risk factors include being born to an HBV-infected woman, having unprotected sex, sharing injection drug equipment, sharing personal hygiene items (e.g., razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes), and living in a household with infected persons.

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Hepatitis B in King County

Purpose of surveillance:

  • To identify infectious cases and outbreaks
  • To identify exposed persons eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis
  • To identify and eliminate sources of transmission
  • To identify pregnant women with hepatitis B and ensure prompt treatment to prevent infection of the newborn

Hepatitis B - Acute

Hepatitis B - Acute

Local epidemiology:

Thirteen cases of acute HBV infection were reported in 2013, 10 in adults and 3 in children under 2 years of age who were born to women with hepatitis B infection (perinatal infections). Of the 10 cases in adults, 60% were in men. Sexual activity or injection drug use was the suspected route of exposure for 9 of 10 adult cases. Three cases were hospitalized, none died.

In 2013, 507 chronic hepatitis B cases were reported; 50% were male. Among 250 female cases, 77 (31%) were pregnant and enrolled in Public Health's Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program (PHBPP). The PHBPP's goal is to prevent chronic hepatitis B from developing in infants born to infected women by ensuring these infants receive appropriate preventive treatment beginning at birth. In 2013, 186 infants in King County were born to women with hepatitis B infection. Of those, all but three infants received on-time post-exposure treatment, including hepatitis B immune globulin and the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine.

Since chronic HBV infection became reportable in Washington state in December 2000, the number of reports in King County has ranged from 400 to 878 annually. Reports of acute HBV cases in King County and nationally have been declining since the 1980s when hepatitis B vaccine became widely available.