Recovering from hepatitis A can disrupt daily life for months and lead to long periods off work.1
Risk areas for Hepatitis A
By eating food or drinking water contaminated by faeces from someone who has the virus. Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through close physical contact with an infectious person or through the use of recreational drugs using contaminated equipment.1,3
Hepatitis A is found across the world, but some countries have higher incidences than others, in particular South America, Africa, Russia and Asia (see map).2
Symptoms usually occur 2-4 weeks after being exposed, therefore you may start to feel ill when you are back home after your trip. Fever, general feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, discomfort in the abdomen, dark-coloured urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).1
In most cases, hepatitis A is not serious. People usually get better within a few months and suffer no long-term effects3. In rare cases, hepatitis can cause life-threatening complications such as liver failure, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing liver problems.3
You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:
- Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip.
- Avoid food and drink (including ice cubes) which may have been prepared by someone infected with the virus and has not washed their hands properly, or washed them in water contaminated with sewage.3
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated water.3
- Avoid recreational drug use.3
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- World Health Organization. Fact sheets. Detail. Hepatitis A. July 2020. Available online: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a (Last accessed May 2021)
- World Health Organization. Hepatitis A, countries or areas at risk. Available online: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_HepA_ITHRiskMap.png (Last accessed May 2021)
- NHS Choices. Conditions. Hepatitis A. March 2019. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-a/ (Last accessed May 2021)
UK-BOTB-2100022 May 2021