What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver spread by person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. It is one of the most common diseases for which travelers are at risk. Symptoms appear suddenly 2 to 6 weeks after infection and can range from a mild, flu-like ailment with fever to a full-blown illness that can progress to jaundice and liver failure. Fatigue is usually the first sign of illness, followed by nausea and lack of appetite. Most people also have mild pain over the liver (just under the rib cage, on the right side of the body).
Countries of Risk:
Hepatitis A occurs worldwide, although there is less risk to those traveling exclusively in Australia, Canada, northern and western Europe, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.
Preparations for Travel to Risk Areas & Recommended Immunizations:
Practice good personal hygiene and follow food and water precautions carefully. Hepatitis A vaccine provides long-lasting immunity: it is given in a single dose at least 2 weeks before departure with a booster 6 months later. You can also receive temporary protection with an immune globulin injection. Consult your health care provider about which method is appropriate for your needs.