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How is Hep B transmitted?

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Quick Answer

Hepatitis B transmission occurs when infected body fluids such as blood and semen enter the bloodstreams of noninfected individuals, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus can be spread during unprotected sexual intercourse and by sharing needles, razors or toothbrushes with infected individuals.

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Infected mothers can also spread the virus to their newborn babies during childbirth, the Hepatitis B Foundation explains. Additional modes of transmission include tattooing, acupuncture and body piercing procedures in which nonsterilized needles are utilized. Individuals at a high risk for contracting the virus include injection drug users, health care workers, correctional facility staff members, blood transfusion recipients who received transfusions before 1992, hemophiliacs and individuals who receive kidney dialysis treatments.

Symptoms of hepatitis B typically develop within one to four months following infection, explains Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can range in severity and include fever, appetite loss, yellowing of the skin, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, joint discomfort, darkened urine, tiredness and fever. It is important for individuals who believe they may have contracted hepatitis B to consult with a physician as soon as possible. In certain cases, individuals can reduce their risk of developing the virus if they receive treatment within the first 24 hours following exposure.

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