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Heppatits B: An Epidemic Essay

1598 words - 7 pages

Hepatitis B: An Epidemic
The World Health Organization defines epidemiology as “the study of the distribution and determinants of health- related states or events, and the application of the study to the control of diseases and other health problems” (CDC, 2014). Determinates of health are “the circumstances in which people are born, live, work and age as well as the systems put in place to deal with illness”. The communicable disease chain is a model beneficial to integrating the many concepts of communicable diseases (Maurer & Smith, 2009). A nurse has a significant role in preventing and controlling infectious disease. A vital factor in preparing for clinical nursing practice is ...view middle of the document...

“The hepatitis B virus is easily spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also be infected from contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can be live up to seven days” (CDC, 2012). Infants can become infected at birth if their mother is infected. Children and adults can become infected by “close contact with blood and body fluids through breaks in the skin, contact with objects that have blood or body fluids on them, having unprotected sex with an infected person, sharing needles, or being stuck with a used needle”. Complications from chronic hepatitis B include cirrhosis, an increased risk for liver cancer, liver failure that could lead to the need for a transplant, kidney problems, and Hepatitis D which is a viral form of hepatitis that can only be acquired if the patient has hepatitis B. Currently, no cure exists for hepatitis B. If a patient has an acute infection they may not need treatment. Their doctor will help patients to reduce symptoms. If a patient is suffering from the chronic form of hepatitis, antiviral medications can help fight the virus and decelerate the degeneration of the liver. An injection of hepatitis B immune globulin must be given within twenty four hours of coming in contact with the virus may help guard you or a patient against the disease (CDC, 2012). In order to prevent hepatitis it is important for patients to know the current hepatitis status of their sexual partners, use a new condom every time they have sex, stop using illicit drugs, be very cautious about tattooing and body piercing parlors, and always ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. The hepatitis B vaccine is given as a series of three to four injections over a period of six months. It is recommended for all infants, children not vaccinated at birth, health care workers, anyone infected with HIV, individuals with multiple sexual partners, illicit drug users, anyone who would be exposed to hepatitis B, and world travelers (WHO, 2014).
Hepatitis B causes considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide. More than 400 million people have chronic hepatitis B. In the United States alone, 38,000 people become infected every year and about two to four thousand of those individuals die from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B (Lin & Kirchner, 2004). One of the world’s most common and serious infectious diseases, hepatitis b virus causes more than one million deaths in a single year! “The incidence of the hepatitis B carrier state in populations is related most importantly to the incidence and age of the primary infection” (Lin & Kirchner, 2004). In low risk areas of the world, the highest incidence of the disease is seen in teens and young adults. In endemic areas of Asia and Africa, epidemiological patterns show that most infections occur in infants and children due to maternal-neonatal transmission (Lin & Kirchner, 2004).
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