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an infectious disease of man; a form of viral hepatitis. The causative agent is a type B virus, and the source of infection is a person infected with the icteric or anicteric form of the disease, or a carrier of the virus. The virus appears in the blood three to four weeks before the appearance of symptoms and remains there for several months and sometimes several years after recovery.
Serum hepatitis is transmitted by transfusions of blood, plasma, serum, or preparations made from them and occasionally by poorly sterilized syringes or needles during inoculations, tests for intracutaneous reactions, stomatological examinations, the drawing of blood, or the injection of medicines.
The incubation period of serum hepatitis ranges from 60 to 160 days. Clinical manifestations and treatment are the same as for infectious hepatitis. Important diagnostic methods are blood transfusion or medical examination performed two or more months before the onset, and testing for the existence of the Australia antigen in the blood.
Serum hepatitis is prevented by medical and laboratory testing of blood donors and by observing standard rules for the sterilization and use of medical instruments.