Hepatitis B Virus Symptoms, Causes

Hepatitis B Virus
Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B Virus is a Hepadnavirus which can cause liver hepatitis. Therefore HBV can increase the risk of development of chronic hepatitis. As a result of Hepatitis B virus, it can cause cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. These are the late term complications of HBV.

The disease hepatitis can describe as an inflammation of the liver. The liver functions can be affected when it is damaged. However Hepatitis B virus plays a major role in causing hepatitis. In addition toxins, heavy alcohol use and some medications can cause liver hepatitis. Similarly Hepatitis A and Hepatitis C viruses can cause liver hepatitis.

Structure of HBV

Hepatitis B virus is an enveloped DNA virus. In addition it is 42-47nm in diameter with an icosahedral nucleocapsid. Therefore this nucleocapsid encloses a partially double-stranded DNA genome. This is covalently bound to the viral polymerase. Envelop of HBV contains a small amount of lipid of cellular origin.

Hepatitis B virus can replicates in hepatocytes. Viral DNA normally present in acute infection by high levels. But in chronic infections, viral levels are very low or absent.

Structure of HBV
Structure of HBV

Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus

HBV can be transmissible by the parenteral route.HBV can cause infection when an infected body fluid entered to a healthy body. For example, infected blood and semen can cause infection to a healthy person. The virus can be spread to the healthy people through,

  • Sexual contact with an infected person
    • HBV can mainly spread through sexual contact among adults.
  • Injection drug use
    • Sharing syringes, needles with HBV infected person can cause the infection.
  • Healthcare providers are at a high risk of getting the infection
    • For an example, if healthcare providers do not follow standard precautions while handling blood, they can get the infection.
  • Transmission of virus from mother to baby
    • Hepatitis B virus can pass from an infected mother to baby at birth.
  • Transmission through blood and organ transfusion

In addition there are some ways that HBV cannot spread. They are,

  • Through breastfeeding
  • Hugging, holding hands
  • Sharing eating utensils
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Contaminated food or water

However some forms of hepatitis can spread through contaminated food or water.

Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus
Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus

Symptoms of HBV

The symptoms of Hepatitis B virus varies depend on the type of the infection. To clarify, the symptoms with acute infection usually appear within 3 months of exposure. Therefore it can last up to 6 months. In addition, the symptoms occur with chronic hepatitis can take years to develop. This may show the symptoms of advanced liver disease.

There are some basic symptoms of hepatitis. They are,

  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice

Symptoms of HBV
Symptoms of HBV

Diagnosis of Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B markers are very much important in diagnosis of HBV. They are,

  • HBsAg
    • Present in acute or chronic infection
    • The first serological marker
    • It shows carrier status if persist after 6 months
  • HBsAb
    • Present in recovery or immunization
  • Anti-HB Core
    • This may be detect both IgG and IgM or only IgM
    • In addition this is a lifelong marker of past and active infection
    • Most importantly it shows whether it is an acute or chronic infection
  • HBeAg
    • Present in acute infection
    • In addition it is extremely infectious
    • Indicate active viral replication
    • Has a greater risk of progression to liver disease
  • HBeAb
    • Has good prognosis
    • Usually prognostic for resolution

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There are two important serological markers in detection of HBV. They are,

  1. Hepatitis B surface antigen(HBsAg)

This is the prime marker used in blood screening process. Therefore it appears within 3 weeks. Not only that but also the levels of HBsAg rise rapidly. This can indicate potential infectivity. In other words, it can indicate whether it is an acute or chronic infection. The methods used to detect HBsAg are Immunoassays and Particle agglutination assays.

  1. Hepatitis B Core antibody-Anti HBC

This is producing later in acute infection. In addition anti HBC can mark the start of the immune response to HBV infection. Therefore this can persist for life.

  1. Viral nucleic acid

Detection of HBV DNA can reduce the window period.

The repeat tests can be process if any of tests give positive results. The repeat tests also can give positive. Therefore it consider as repeatedly reactive. As a result, it cannot be released for transfusion. Repeatedly reactive samples should undergo confirmatory or supplementary tests. Further they should have different sensitivity and specificity as well.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis B Virus
Diagnosis of Hepatitis B Virus

Prevention of HBV

There is a vaccine for HBV to prevent the disease. Therefore vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease. The Hepatitis B vaccine can give as a series of 3 shots. In additionally this can give over a period of 6 months. The entire series should give for long term protection.


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