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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 - Chronic

Local epidemiology:

Eleven cases of acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection were reported in 2012, all in adults, with the majority in men (82%). Fifty five percent (6/11) of the cases were suspected to have been exposed to hepatitis B through either sexual activity or injection drug use. One third of the cases were hospitalized but none died.

Six hundred and seventy three cases of chronic hepatitis B were reported in 2012. Fifty percent were in men. Thirty-four percent (111/326) of the female cases newly reported were pregnant and were enrolled in our Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program, for a total of 239 infants born to women with hepatitis B in 2012 (the additional 128 infants were born to women reported with hepatitis B prior to 2012). The program's goal is to prevent hepatitis B in infants born to infected women by ensuring these infants receive appropriate preventive treatment.

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 each year. Reports of acute HBV cases in King County and nationally have been declining since the 1980s when hepatitis B vaccine became widely available.