State law mandates that all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Positive results must be reported to the County of Riverside Community Health Agency Department of Public Health on a Confidential Morbidity Report (CMR) by fax or mail. Reports may also be made by telephone. When Disease Control receives the CMR, a referral is made to the Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program Coordinator within the Immunization Branch. The coordinator then does follow-up to ensure these infants receive appropriate preventive treatment. Close household contact are also referred for evaluation and immunization if indicated.
Hepatitis B can be diagnosed by blood tests. Routine blood work, which includes testing for liver function, may indicate infection. In addition, a specific blood test for the virus can give a definitive diagnosis of hepatitis B.
There is no specific treatment or cure for acute hepatitis B and no drugs have been shown to alter the course of infection once someone becomes ill. However, for individuals with chronic hepatitis B, interferon therapy may help. Sometimes, liver transplantation is necessary for severe cases.
Symptoms of hepatitis B can be treated. For example, restricting fat and drinking clear liquids can help relieve symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, it is recommended that individuals with hepatitis B:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Eat a high-protein diet to repair damaged cells
- Eat a high-carbohydrate diet to protect the liver
- Avoid alcohol
Keep in mind that HBV can be transmitted to others via sex or contact with items that are contaminated with blood (such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, sanitary napkins, and tampons). Remember that most infections are self-limiting and the virus is cleared from the body. A blood test can confirm if the virus has been cleared from one's body.