Erin Yates, PA-C
Liver Specialists of Texas
is simply an inflammation of the liver. There are multiple causes of hepatitis including very common viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis A virus is spread by close personal contact with someone who has the infection, eating food prepared by someone with hepatitis A or drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis B virus is a sexually transmitted disease or may be passed from a hepatitis B infected mother to child. It is not spread by shaking hands or hugging. The tables below show people at high risk of contracting hepatitis A and B.
TABLE 1: High risk populations
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Travelers to developing countries with high rates of HAV (includes Mexico)
Men who have sex with men
IV drug users
People exposed to hepatitis A in a research setting
People who work with infected non-human primates
People who received clotting factors
People with chronic liver disease
People with multiple sex partners or at risk for STD
Sex partners and household contacts of peoplewho have HBV
Men who have sex with men
IV drug users
Travelers to countries with high rates of HBV
People who work with or near blood
Patients on dialysis
People who receive clotting factors
Children of HBV infected mothers
Symptoms of Hepatitis A and B can vary, ranging from no symptoms to feeling tired, nausea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine, light stools, and yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).
The treatment for hepatitis A is rest, it will pass and the exposed person will become immune to hepatitis A for the rest of their life. Very rarely, the virus can cause an acute liver failure which may require liver transplantation.
Some people exposed to hepatitis B will become immune and never need treatment. Others who have the virus six months after infection will develop chronic hepatitis B. Treatment depends on lab test and may require a liver biopsy.
Fortunately, both hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccination. The vaccines are safe and effective way to prevent disease for persons of all ages. They are well tolerated and do not make you sick after the vaccination. People who had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past should not be given the vaccine, nor should people who have known allergies any of the vaccine components.
It is very important for people in the high risk populations to be vaccinated. However, it is a good idea for all people to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B since the vaccines are so safe and well tolerated.
Commonly used vaccines for preventing hepatitis A and B include the following:
Twinrix: offers long-lasting protection against vaccine-preventable hepatitis (VPH), which includes hepatitis A and hepatitis B, through a single vaccine series. Vaccine-preventable hepatitis includes hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Hepatitis C is not vaccine preventable.
: This is a vaccine only providing immunity against hepatitis B, which is a noninfectious recombinant DNA vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKlein Biologicals.
: This is a vaccine used to prevent hepatitis A. It has NO effect against hepatitis B. HAVRIX is administered as a 2-dose series with the initial dose followed by a booster dose 6 to 12 months later
People who have other liver diseases such as hepatitis C, autoimmune hepatitis, Wilson disease, hemochromatosis, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, fatty liver and cirrhosis should all receive vaccination for hepatitis A and B. If a person with chronic liver disease gets acute hepatitis A or B, it could cause a deterioration of the liver that would not usually affect a healthy liver. These people are at risk of becoming more ill from the virus than a normal person.
In summary, hepatitis A and B are viruses that cause inflammation of the liver. They are entirely preventable with safe and effective vaccines. All people should get hepatitis A and B vaccines, especially those who fall into a high risk population. If you are not sure if you need the vaccine, contact Dr. Galati and he will review your current lab tests and determine if vaccination is appropriate for you.
Vaccine safety in children has been raised over the years, and there has been concern that childhood vaccinations may increase the chance of developing autism. Recently, Dr. Galati interviewed Paul Offit, M.D., Chief of Infectious Disease at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and discussed this very important topic. Dr. Offit was a guest on Your Health First
, a weekly radio program Dr. Galati hosts. Based on all available scientific data, there is no link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Click here
to listen to the interview and additional supporting information on vaccine safety.