What is an Infectious Disease? An Infectious Disease is a disease caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. These diseases are all 'caught', hence they are often termed communicable diseases. Examples of specific infections include Strep throat, mononucleosis, cold sores, athlete's foot, appendicitis, boils, vaginal yeast infections, African Sleeping sickness and tuberculosis. HEPATITIS B VACCINATION Safe and effective vaccines are now available for protection against hepatitis B, a serious liver infection that can result in cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B vaccine prevents hepatitis B disease and its serious consequences.

Use of hepatitis B vaccine and other vaccines is strongly endorsed by the medical, scientific and public health communities as a safe and effective way to prevent disease and death. There is no confirmed evidence that indicates that hepatitis B vaccine can cause chronic illnesses. Whenever large number of vaccines are given, some adverse events will occur coincidentally after vaccination and be falsely attributed to the vaccine. To assure a high standard of safety with vaccines, several federal agencies continually assess and research possible or potential health effects that could be associated with vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all newborns, infants and children, especially sexually active teenagers be vaccinated against hepatitis B. Vaccination is also recommended for individuals at high risk of being infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). These include: .

Health care workers, including doctors, dentists, nurses, blood and lab technicians; . Emergency workers - including paramedics, fire fighters and police; . Hemodialysis patients; . Military personnel; . Morticians and embalmers; .

Patients and staff of institutions for the mentally handicapped, inmates of long-term correctional institutions; . Ethnic groups with a high rate of hepatitis B including Chinese, Koreans, Indochinese, Filipinos, Alaskan Eskimos, Haitians, and American Indians; . People with multiple sexual partners; . Intravenous drug users; . Recipients of certain blood products; .

Household contacts and sex partners of hepatitis B carriers; . International travelers Those who are already infected will not benefit from vaccination. However, infants born of mothers who are carriers of the hepatitis B virus can be protected. A simple blood test can determine whether someone is a hepatitis B carrier. Immunization requires three doses of vaccine according to the following schedule: .

1st dose: For infants born to infected mothers - within 12 hours. For infants born to mothers who test negative - within one to two months following delivery... 2nd dose: 1 month later. 3rd dose: 6 months after the first dose. Administration is by intramuscular injection in the thigh or upper arm. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and is spread through blood, other body fluids and contaminated needles.

In the United States, there are about 1,000,000 carriers, who have no symptoms but can pass the infection on to others, and an estimated 300,000 new cases a year. A significant number of people with hepatitis B have no symptoms. Others may have flu-like symptoms: fever, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting. Twenty-five to thirty-five percent have symptoms such as jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes, that indicates liver damage.

Five to ten percent of hepatitis B young adult victims become chronic carriers, often without knowing it. Nine of ten infants infected become chronic carriers. They are at increased risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer. The vaccines provide immunization in about 90% of recipients..