Science Questions

Can Hepatitis B be transferred in urine?

Sun, 6th Dec 2009

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Sherri asked:

Can Hepatitis B be transferred in urine?


We put this to Graeme Alexander:

Graeme -   When I meet patients in the clinic, I get two types of question.  One, from a patient who’s scared that they’ll transmit hepatitis B to someone they love  - and then the other, from the person that they love, wondering if they’ll catch it from their partner.  And the answer is that you can't catch hepatitis B from urine.  These viruses are actually quite difficult to catch, both hepatitis B and hepatitis C.  And hepatitis B is acquired largely by contact with blood or through sex and hepatitis C pretty well only by contact through blood.  So, you can live with someone for many, many years and not catch hepatitis B or C from them because close contact in the family situation is entirely safe.

Chris -   And I think the other mitigation is that there is a good vaccine for hep-B, isn’t there?  So if we identify people in a family situation who have one carrier and one person who isn’t infected, we can vaccinate the uninfected person to protect them.

Graeme -   It’s probably the most effective vaccine that we’ve ever come across, very effective and very safe once you've been vaccinated.


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Sherri asked the Naked Scientists: I was told urine is sterile. I agree that it is sterile until it exits the body, but just because it is sterile does not mean that we can not catch infections from it does it? Like HIV or Hepatitis. These can be caught from blood contamination, which is sterile, so why not urine? What do you think? Sherri, Fri, 4th Dec 2009

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