Hepatitis B Incubation Period

The period between transmission of the hepatitis B virus and the beginning of symptoms of hepatitis B -- which is known as the "hepatitis B incubation period" -- lasts between 30 and 180 days. The length of this incubation period will depend on how many virus particles a person has been exposed to. Infection with very few particles causes a longer incubation period. A person is contagious during the hepatitis B incubation period, and may remain contagious for up to 15 weeks after hepatitis B symptoms begin.

An Overview of the Hepatitis B Incubation Period

When a person becomes infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the virus begins to multiply within the liver cells. As more and more of the hepatitis B virus is made in the liver cells, they can become damaged and may even die.
 
After 4 to 12 weeks (on average), hepatitis B symptoms can begin. This period between hepatitis B transmission and the start of hepatitis B symptoms is called the "hepatitis B incubation period." The hepatitis B incubation period can be as short as 30 days or as long as 180 days. This incubation period is dependent of the number of virus particles a person is exposed to. Infection with very few particles results in a longer incubation period.
 

Is a Person Contagious During the Hepatitis B Incubation Period?

A person is contagious during the hepatitis B incubation period. A person who is infected with hepatitis B begins to be contagious early in the incubation period. About one-half of people remain contagious for up to two months after hepatitis B symptoms begin. The remainder of people who do not develop chronic hepatitis B will remain contagious for up to 15 weeks after symptoms begin. If a person develops chronic hepatitis B, they will remain contagious indefinitely.

What Is Hepatitis B?

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