Michele Spring Reporting:

(Thursday, July 12, 2018) Tuscarawas County, Ohio – The Tuscarawas County Health Department is playing a pivotal role in Hepatitis B transmission prevention amongst high-risk infants throughout the Tuscarawas Valley.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease resulting from an infection with the Hepatitis B virus, which can spread from an infected mother to her newborn baby during either a vaginal delivery or a C-section.

Communicable Disease Health Nurse Chelsea Martin said that all pregnant mothers are tested throughout their pregnancy.

“It is actually part of the normal prenatal blood work tests that every pregnant mom gets to test for Hepatitis B, so most moms don’t even know if they have been tested because most moms are negative.”

If a mother is positive or if the status is unknown at the time of the birth, that is what makes a child at risk for transmission of Hepatitis B. Within 12 hours of an at-risk child being born, the infant will not only receive the Hepatitis B vaccine but also the HBIG vaccine.

“And that just gives the babies immune system extra help to fight the virus at birth.”

According to statistics, between 2014 and 2017, Tuscarawas County had five cases of babies at high risk for perinatal Hepatitis B transmission. Babies infected with Hepatitis B are 90% more likely to develop a lifelong, chronic infection with the potential of causing serious health problems, such as liver damage.

If you think you or your child might be at risk, you are encouraged to contact the health department at (330) 343-5555.

Copyright WTUZ Radio Inc., 2018