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Hepatitis B Vaccine Recommended for Adults With Diabetes

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all unvaccinated adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes aged 19 to 59, say new guidelines from the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

The vaccination should be done as soon as possible after adults in this age group are diagnosed with diabetes.

Unvaccinated adults with diabetes who are older than 59 can receive hepatitis B vaccination at the discretion of their doctor, the ACIP advises.

The recommendations are outlined in the Dec. 23 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 700,000 and 1.4 million people in the United States are infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), according to background information in the report.

Chronic HBV infection damages the liver and can lead to serious illness and death. More than 15 percent of adults with chronic HBV infection develop cirrhosis and liver cancer, the authors of the report noted.

People with diabetes are at increased risk for HBV infection, which can occur through exposure to small, even invisible, amounts of blood from an infected person who earlier used a shared medical or glucose-monitoring device, the article states.

The hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body and is easily transmitted. This means that virus transmission can occur if finger-stick devices or blood glucose monitors meant for one person are used by more than one person without appropriate cleaning or infection control measures.

"Initiatives are ongoing to improve infection control training of staff responsible for providing or assisting with diabetes care, and to improve the design and labeling of devices used in diabetes monitoring and treatment," according to a CDC news release.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about hepatitis B.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Dec. 22, 2011

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