Viral Hepatitis B ( Hep B; HBV ) leading to Chronic Liver Diseases or Acute Liver Failure
Viral Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. Worldwide, about 350 million people are chronic carriers of HBV, of whom, more than 250,000 die due to Hep B from liver-related disease each year.
Acute Viral Hepatitis B
Acute viral hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus varies largely from mild symptoms requiring no treatment to fulminant hepatic failure needing liver transplantation. In younger people acute viral hepatitis B is more likely to be asymptomatic. Viral infection accounts for more than 50% of the cases of acute hepatitis in the United States.
Chronic Viral Hepatitis B
People with chronic HBV infection are called chronic carriers. About two-thirds of these people do not themselves get sick or die of the Hepatitis B virus, but they can transmit the Hepatitis B virus to other people. The remaining one third develop chronic hepatitis B, a disease of the liver that can be very serious. Majority of chronic viral hepatitis patients will remain asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, abnormal liver blood tests being the only manifestation.
Incidence of Hep B
About 90-95% of people who are infected with Hep B are able to fight off the Hepatitis B virus so their infection never becomes chronic viral Hepatitis B. Only about 5-10 percent of adults infected with HBV go on to develop chronic HBV infection. HBV infection is one of the most important causes of infectious hepatitis.
In the US, hepatitis B is largely a disease of young adults aged 20-50 years. About 1.25 million people are chronic carriers of Hep B. Many do not know they are infected with Hep B. Each year an estimated 43,000 persons become infected with with Hepatitis B. HBV causes about 5000 deaths each year.
Approximately 90-95% of cases of acute viral hepatitis B in neonates and 5% of cases of acute viral hepatitis B in adults demonstrate histologic evolution to chronic hepatitis.
Risk of HBV
Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. About 15-25 percent of people with chronic hepatitis B die of liver disease.
Liver Cirrhosis due to Viral Hepatitis B
Approximately 20% of patients with chronic HBV eventually develop liver cirrhosis, as observed histologically. Although some patients with liver cirrhosis are asymptomatic, others develop life-threatening complications. The clinical illnesses of Hep B and liver cirrhosis may take months, years, or decades to evolve.
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