Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus enters the bloodstream and attacks the liver. The virus is spread by contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person. A person can become infected in several ways, including:
- Having unprotected sex with an infected person;
- Sharing needles when injecting illegal drugs; being stuck with a used needle on the job or
- During birth when the virus passes from an infected mother to her baby.
When infants and young children are infected, the virus often remains in the body for decades and causes ongoing liver damage, including liver failure and liver cancer.
Fortunately, a vaccine can prevent this very serious illness. Hepatitis B vaccine information and other information on vaccines for children and adults is available from the NH Immunization Program.
Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program
The primary goal of the NH Perinatal Hepatitis B Program is to prevent the transmission of hepatitis B virus from a hepatitis B-positive pregnant woman to her baby. The Program Coordinator helps ensure that all babies born to hepatitis B-positive women:
- Get their first hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin at birth,
- Complete their hepatitis B vaccine series on time, and
- Have blood testing done to show that they are protected.
All pregnant women should have a blood test for hepatitis B surface antigen. All positive test results should be reported by health care providers, hospitals, and laboratories to the NH DHHS (per RSA-141 C).
To report positive test results:
Mail: NH Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Public Health Services
Bureau of Infectious Disease Control
29 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301-6504
Phone (Monday – Friday 8:00 AM-4:30 PM): (603) 271-4496
Toll free in NH: (800) 852-3345 Ext. 4496
Fax: (603) 271-0545
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