Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver causing infectious Hepatitis, which may lead to liver disease and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood products, IV drug use and sexual contact with infected partners.


Less commonly it can be transmitted through unclean medical and dental procedures as well as living closely with a person who has been infected.

Children playing together with cuts and scrapes may also transmit this.

Athletes have been known to transmit Hepatitis B by cuts and exchange of body fluids.

Hepatitis B virus is more common and easier to transmit than AIDS.

It also kills more people yearly.

Fortunately there is a vaccine available for people who are at potential risk.

It is recommended that travelers have the Hepatitis B vaccine if they are travelling to a country where it is common or if a traveller is planning to send three months or more in a certain area.

People involved with medical centres, sanitation and sewage projects, or day care positions should consider being immunized.

Although travelers often deny planning risky sexual behavior on vacation it is well known that many do so and therefore they should consider immunization.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is currently available to grade four students in Manitoba as part of their vaccination schedule.

Adults and teens that have not yet been vaccinated should consider doing so.

Younger children that may be travelling abroad for extended periods should also consider being vaccinated.

Hepatitis B Immunization and Safety

The Hepatitis B vaccine is considered safe and there is no evidence to link it with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or autism as been suggested by anti-vaccination groups.

These groups have issued many misleading statements about vaccinations.

Health Canada and the World Health Organization advocate the use of vaccinations to prevent further spread of Hepatitis B.

Regular Immunization
Hepatitis B is available in several brands and is given on visit one, then again in one month and the final booster is given in five to six months. (0,1 and 6 months)
Two doses are necessary to initiate enough antibodies to provide adequate protection while travelling. After having the third dose the vaccine is effective for at least ten years.

There are no guidelines for boosting people past ten years, as it is believed they still have long-term immunity.

Often Hepatitis A and B are combined together (Twinrix) to give both vaccines at once in the same needle.

Accelerated Dosing :

A variation of the vaccination schedule can be given during the initial visit, seven days later and the in twenty-one days.

A final booster should be given in twelve months to provide coverage for the following ten years.

(0 day, 7days, 21 days and 12 months)

A sore arm and low-grade fever are the most common side effects of the vaccine and may last anywhere from 1 - 3 days.
Not required after completion of three shot series (or 4 if recieving the accelerated dosing schedule)

. Health care professionals are required to have their immunity checked with a blood test since some people do not mount a complete response from the vaccine (poor responders) or no response (non responders)

Hepatitis B  Infections

Hepatitis B infections may be almost asymptomatic or actively involving the liver.

People may die from liver failure or they may be more prone to liver cancer in the future.

People with diagnosed Hepatitis B should be under the care of a specialist and should do everything possible to avoid further liver damage.

This may include avoiding alcohol and Tylenol (as well as other drugs that either effect the liver or are metabolised).

People with Hepatitis B may also consider immunization with Hepatitis A since any further liver damage from a potential 2nd liver infection could be very serious.

Conversely all individuals with any liver disease should consider vaccination for both Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis B should be considered for travelers when:

1) To cover accidents requiring medical intervention
2) Exposed to non-sterile medical equipment and unscreened blood or blood products

3) Cosmetic practices (body piercing) and tattoos
4) Casual sexual liaisons

Estimated rate of infection of Hepatitis B in travelers .8-2.4/1000 per month Risk is dependant on exposure, destination and duration.

Hepatitis B Links (See also our section on Hepatitis A)

Hepatitis B Foundation http://www.hepb.org/
CDC http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/a/
Hepatitis Foundation International http://www.hepfi.org/
Canadian Liver Foundation
HIVand Hepatitis.com http://www.hivandhepatitis.com/index.html