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   Hepatitis B (HBv) is an appropriate model for illustrating the risk assessment process.  HBv is among the most ubiquitous of human pathogens and most prevalent of laboratory-associated infections.  The agent has been demonstrated in a variety of body secretions and excretions.  Blood, saliva, and semen have been shown to contain the virus.   Natural transmission is associated with   inoculation or with contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with infectious body fluids.  There is no evidence of airborne or interpersonal spread through casual contact.   Prophylactic measures include the use of a licensed vaccine in high-risk groups and the use of hepatitis B immune globulin following overt exposures.

                Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease that results from the destruction of patches of liver tissue and is one of the most common of all liver diseases.  Most hepatitis is caused by virus', but alcohol, drugs, and a variety of vial, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections can cause liver inflammation.

                Different viruses-- A, B, and non A, non B cause viral hepatitis.  Hepatitis A virus is shed from the body through the intestinal tract and is spread mostly by consuming foods that have been contaminated with some sort of fecal contact. Epidemics of hepatitis A may occur by consumption of shellfish taken from polluted waters. This disease also may be contracted by direct physical contact with a person with an active infection.   After being infected, a person produces antibodies against this disease, which are protective for life.  Studies have found antibodies against hepatitis A in people who have not had clinical symptoms of the disease, indicating that many people have mild hepatitis A without knowing it.

                Hepatitis B, sometimes referred to as serum hepatitis, is spread by Direct blood contact.   At one time, blood transfusions were the most common source of hepatitis B, but this has changed with the development of a screening test that can identify contaminated blood.  Today the used of contaminated needles by drug abusers is a more common source of the disease.  The disease may be spread by other direct contact; sexual contact, particularly among homosexuals, is a common example.  The incubation period for hepatitis A is about 2-6 weeks, and can vary from 4 to 25 weeks for B and non-A, non-B types.

                Hepatitis B is generally the more serious form of the disease.  A large number of hepatitis B patient also develop a chronic, subacute form of the disease without obvious symptoms.   In some people, the subacute form of the disease without obvious symptoms. In some people, the subcute hepatitis is relatively benign; in others, however, there is continuing liver damage that may progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

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