Hepatitis B is a serious disease. The first stage may lead to loss of appetite, feeling tired, pains in muscles, joints, or stomach, diarrhea or vomiting, yellow skin or eyes and possibly death, Long-lasting infection with hepatitis B virus may destroy the liver, lead to liver cancer or may cause death.
Each year in the U.S. 150,000 people get hepatitis B, more than 11,000 people have to stay in the hospital for care, and 4,000 to 5,000 people die from hepatitis B.
The hepatitis B virus is carried in the blood and body fluids of an infected person. It can pass through tiny breaks in the skin, mouth, vagina or penis. A person can get infected in several ways, such as:
- During birth when the infected mother passes the virus to her baby
- By having sex with an infected person
- By being stuck with a used needle
- By sharing personal items such as a razor or toothbrush
People can spread hepatitis B virus without even knowing they have it.