Phone: (307) 733-6401
Fax: (307) 733-8747
Teton County Public Health
460 East Pearl Avenue
Walk in Clinic Hours are M-F from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Office Hrs Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What is hepatitis B? Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Although the virus is found in nearly all body fluid of infected persons, only blood, saliva, semen, and vaginal fluids have been shown to be infectious. Hepatitis B has a carrier state; once you get it, you have a 10% chance of carrying the virus for life. Who gets hepatitis B and how is it spread? Those at greatest risk of getting hepatitis B include infants born to mothers who have hepatitis B, drug users who share needles, household contacts of hepatitis B carriers, and persons with multiple sex partners. Others at risk include institutionalized persons, patients receiving dialysis treatments, and health care and laboratory workers who have direct contact with infected blood. There are four main ways to contract hepatitis B: (I) perinatally (upon birth of a baby to a hepatitis B carrier mother); (2) intravenously (via a needle stick with a contaminated needle); (3) sexually (via infected semen and vaginal fluids); and (4) rarely by exposure of mucous membranes or broken skin to infectious body fluids. What are the symptoms of hepatitis B and when do they start? Hepatitis B symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes joint pain, hives, or rash. Fever is usually mild or absent. The urine may temporarily appear darker in color, with a yellowing (jaundice) of the skin and whites of the eyes. Some infected individuals show few or no symptoms. The symptoms usually begin about 3 months after infection with the virus, but the onset may range from two to six months. For how long is a person with hepatitis B contagious? Hepatitis B virus is present in the blood and other body fluids of an infected person several weeks before symptoms start, and the person remains infectious to others for months afterward. If a person becomes a carrier of the hepatitis B virus, they remain potentially infectious to others indefinitely. Is there a vaccine for hepatitis B? Yes. Three hepatitis B shots are recommended for all infants starting at birth with completion by 18 months of age. It is also recommended for persons in high risk groups, such as household members and sexual partners of a person infected with hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective. Hepatitis B is treated with an antiviral medication that has been shown to help in some people with hepatitis B; however the best prevention is immunization. (Note: The woman in the photo above is not pregnant. She has chronic liver cancer due to hepatitis B.) Wyoming Department of Health 2300 Capitol Ave Cheyenne WY 82002 (307) 777-7172 (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)