What is Hepatitis A?
This disease is a viral infection, which can be silent. The incubation period is 15-50 days followed by no signs, or pyrexia, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort for 2-7 days. Urine darkens and stools pale as the infected person moves into a jaundice phase. Fever then resolves and they are no longer infectious. Recovery can take several months.
Who is at risk of Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is seen worldwide. Areas of high risk are Central and South America, Africa and Southern Asia out to Indonesia. Medium risk areas include Southern and Eastern Europe across the Russian Federation and Greenland. Low risk includes the rest of the world.
How can I prevent Hepatitis A?
Vaccination, or screening for antibodies in those over 40 years of age, is the best and most effective way of preventing Hepatitis A. Even with vaccination, travellers should be aware of good food and water hygiene. Avoiding potentially contaminated food and drink can prevent most cases of Hepatitis A among travellers. The disease is often considered asymptomatic in those under the age of 10 and vaccination is often discouraged. However, it is important to understand that transmission can still occur and therefore vaccination should still be considered where the risk of infection is high.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.