B virus (HBV) is a virus that causes an infection of the liver
potentially leading to liver disease, liver cancer and possibly
Symptoms of HBV infection may range from no symptoms,
to brief flu-like symptoms, to jaundice and serious illness.
If symptoms do occur, they may not be evident until 2 to 6
months after the person is infected. However, studies have
shown that an infected person can be infectious to others
several weeks before the onset of symptoms.
HBV Infection Trends
CDC estimates that between 140,000 and 320,000
people become infected every year in the U.S.
Approximately one-half of all people who become
infected do not have any symptoms of infection.
Approximately 10% of all people who become infected
may become "carriers" of HBV. This means that they
may suffer from infection at a later time (chronic infection).
They can also be infectious to others for the rest of their
lives while not necessarily demonstrating any symptoms of
HBV infection themselves.
Individuals whose jobs involve handling blood
and OPIM are at a much greater risk of becoming infected with
HBV than HIV.
Why you may ask?
It is because there are many more HBV-infected
people than HIV-infected people in the community. Thus the
chance of exposure to HBV is greater. Also
Hepatitis B virus is much more infectious than
This difference in infection risk is best illustrated
by the following statistics:
If you had a needle stick accident and were exposed
to infected blood, your chance of acquiring an infection would
According to CDC, your risk for acquiring an HBV
infection is 100 times greater than for HIV.
When considering the risk of occupational exposure
to HBV, keep in mind that a safe and effective vaccine is
available to you.
Reducing the Risk through Vaccination
A 3-shot vaccination series is available for hepatitis
B virus. The vaccination is highly effective and safe.