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Hepatitis B is similar to hepatitis A in its symptoms, but is more likely to cause chronic long-term illness and permanent damage to the liver if not treated. Hepatitis B is most frequently passed on through the exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person.
Many people who become infected with Hepatitis B experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, but they may still carry the infectious virus and pass it on to others. When symptoms do appear they are similar to those of hepatitis A and may include:
A patient with a positive test result will be referred to a specialist who will carry out further tests to determine the degree to which hepatitis B may be affecting the liver, and what may be the best treatment options. In these tests a small sample of liver tissue may need to be taken (a liver biopsy). Antiviral medication is given as treatment to those with chronic symptoms to help prevent further liver damage. These medications may be injected or given in pill form. Examples are Interferon Alpha, Lamivudine and Baraclude. Treatment usually lasts 6 months, during which time the patient will be carefully monitored.
Hepatitis C, like other forms of hepatitis, causes inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis C virus is transferred primarily through blood, and is more persistent than hepatitis A or B. Many people do not have symptoms when they become infected with hepatitis C. Symptoms may emerge later, taking anywhere between 15 and 150 days to develop. Occasionally a person will not develop any symptoms and their immune system will successfully clear the virus without their knowledge. An infected person without symptoms can still act as a carrier and pass the virus on to others.
Treatment combines the antiviral drugs interferon and ribavirin. Although treatment has improved in recent years, the success rates vary depending on which genotype the patient has and how long they have had hepatitis C.
We have a proactive approach to health in the workplace. The Westover offers a range of services designed to minimise sick leave and work absence including the new Berkeley Heart Program, a risk reduction programme for heart disease.