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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:

Nine cases of acute HBV infection were reported in 2014, eight in adults and one in a child under two years of age who was born to a woman with hepatitis B infection (perinatal infection). Of the eight cases in adults, 90% were in men. Sexual activity or injection drug use was the suspected route of exposure for five of eight adult cases. Two cases were hospitalized, none died.

In 2014, 624 chronic hepatitis B cases were reported; 56% were male. Among 275 female cases, 67 (24%) 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.

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.