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Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is a virus (HBV) that can cause inflammation of the liver.
  • It is spread when blood, semen, or another bodily fluid from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected through percutaneous (e.g., needlestick) exposure, direct contact with mucous membranes, sexual contact, or nonintact skin (e.g., wounds, cuts, scratches).
  • For some people, hepatitis B infection is a short-term illness; but for others, it can become a long-term chronic infection.
  • Infants and children are more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B infection than adults.
  • Chronic hepatitis B can lead to long-term, serious health conditions, such as cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver or liver cancer.
  • The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated.

A safe effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B infection and is part of the routine recommended vaccination schedule for all infants starting at birth, children and adolescents who have not already completed the HBV vaccination series, and certain adults with increased risk for hepatitis B or severe disease. See below for more information.

  • Hepatitis B Vaccine:

Hepatitis B vaccine can also decrease the risk of infection in people exposed to hepatitis B, for example after percutaneous exposure, sexual assault, or perinatal exposure (i.e., baby born to HBV-infected mother), and should be given as soon as possible after exposure. In some situations, hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) should be given in addition to vaccine for added protection. See the following link for recommendations for specific exposure situations.

Hepatitis B is reportable in Orange County within seven (7) calendar days of identification. To report a case, health care providers/facilities should call OCHCA Epidemiology at 714-834-8180, fax reports to 714-560-4050, or mail to P.O. Box 6128, Santa Ana, CA 92706-0128. An average of 10 cases (range, 5-13) of acute hepatitis B and two perinatal hepatitis B infections (range, 1-4) were reported in Orange County each year between 2013 and 2017.

Healthcare Professionals


For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website

Last reviewed January 24, 2019