Take Steps to Avoid the Risk of Hepatitis B

Take Steps to Avoid the Risk of Hepatitis B

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has issued new guidelines and now recommends a hepatitis B vaccine for all adults with diabetes, up to age 59.  This is because of the increased risk of contracting the disease through the shared use of testing equipment.

The article was not clear on whether this is through personal shared use of glucose monitors or if it an issue in medical facilities that use single monitors on multiple patients.  The recommendation is always to replace lancets after every use, and I am certain that is the case in health care facilities, but hepatitis B is very hardy and can survive outside the body.

If the main cause of transmission is through individuals sharing their monitors with others outside a health care facility, it would make more sense to try to educate everyone on the risks of doing so, rather than pushing for yet another vaccine, so I wonder if there is more to the story than we are seeing in news articles.

The best way to avoid the spread of hepatitis B is to never share your testing supplies with others.  If a glucose monitor is shared, the lancet should be replaced after every use and as an extra precaution, the area around the lancet swabbed with alcohol.

The recommendation by the Advisory Committee is that every adult should be vaccinated as soon after diagnosis of diabetes as possible, so if you are in this category and between the ages of 18 and 59, you might want to talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.