Hepatitis is a contagious disease that is preventable. Basic preventive principles include avoiding contact with other people’s blood or bodily fluids and practicing good sanitation. In addition, vaccines are available to prevent some types of hepatitis. They are given to people at high risk of contracting the disease.
Infected blood and bodily fluids can spread hepatitis. To avoid contact:
Do not inject illicit
, especially with shared needles. Seek help to stop using drugs.
Do not have sex with partners who have hepatitis or other
sexually transmitted diseases
Practice safe sex using latex
or abstain from sex.
Limit your number of sexual partners. A mutually monogamous relationship is best.Avoid sharing personal hygiene products (such as, toothbrushes, razors).Avoid handling items that may be contaminated with hepatitis-infected blood.
Donate your own blood
before elective surgery so it can be used if you need a
Avoid getting a tattoo or a body piercing. If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the artist or piercer properly sterilizes the equipment. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them.If you are a healthcare professional, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharp instruments and dispose of them properly.
Wear gloves when touching or cleaning up bodily fluids on personal items, such as:
BandagesBand-aidsTampons, sanitary pads, diapersLinensCover open cuts or wounds.Use only sterile needles for drug injections, blood draws, ear piercing, and tattooing.
If you are pregnant, have a blood test for
. Infants born to mothers with hepatitis B should be treated within 12 hours after birth.
travelling to countries where the risk of hepatitis is higher, follow proper precautions, such as:
Only drinking bottled waterNot using ice cubesAvoiding certain foods, like shellfish, unpasteurized milk products, and fresh fruits and vegetables
Good sanitation can prevent the transmission of some forms of hepatitis. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food.Carefully clean all household utensils after use.
Ask your doctor if you need a hepatitis vaccine. Vaccines are available for
IG, available for hepatitis A and B, is an injection that contains antibodies, which help provide protection. This shot is usually given: Before exposure to the virus, orAs soon as possible after exposure to the virus
Overview of acute viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-acute-viral-hepatitis. Updated July 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Overview of chronic viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-chronic-hepatitis. Updated July 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Viral hepatitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Updated September 12, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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