Summer is fast approaching, which means it’s vacation time for many. Going on vacation can be a remarkable experience, and it is crucial to consider all the things that factor into traveller safety. One of which is Hepatitis A prevention. Hepatitis A infections are becoming more common, which is why it is essential to take the right steps for prevention.
What Is Hepatitis A?
Let’s start with the basics. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that causes liver inflammation. The illness ranges from a mild virus that lasts up to two weeks, to a severe infection lasting several months. Hepatitis A does not become chronic, and the majority of people recover without any treatment. The illness is, however, a high risk for pregnant women. It can be fatal and is particularly dangerous for women in their third trimester.
How Is Hepatitis A Contracted?
Hepatitis A transmits through a variety of ways which includes person to person contact, and exposure to contaminated food or water. Often the more common form of picking up the virus, person to person contact involves directly or indirectly coming in contact with food or infected feces handled by someone with Hepatitis A. Ingesting contaminated food or water is also a high risk for picking up the illness. Food and water may get infected if the handler has Hepatitis A, the person did not properly wash their hands, or the food got contaminated during harvest, manufacturing and processing. Water, uncooked shellfish, and raw fruits and vegetables are common foods that have a high risk of containing Hepatitis A.
How to Prevent Hepatitis A
Vaccinate! It’s as simple as that. The Hepatitis A vaccine is a secure and reliable way to prevent exposure to the virus when travelling. The vaccine has two doses; the first shot then another injection six months later. It is vital to schedule the vaccine as soon as travel dates are confirmed, to ensure the vaccination process is complete before travel.
How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis A?
Many people experience a wide range of Hepatitis A symptoms. Some do not encounter any symptoms at all while others may experience fever, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, jaundice, dark urine, and fatigue. Children often do not show any signs of sickness when carrying Hepatitis A, and adults who don’t exhibit symptoms can still transmit the virus for up to six months.
Hepatitis A can ruin a vacation. Getting vaccinated is a simple way to prevent contraction of the virus. In addition to getting a Hepatitis A shot, other prevention methods include:
- Thoroughly wash hands after eating, using the washroom, and changing diapers
- Drink from a safe water supply when travelling
- Only eat freshly cooked food
- Try not to consume non-peelable raw fruits and vegetables
- Use a thermometer when cooking food
Consult with your doctor about receiving a Hepatitis A vaccine or visit ABC Travel Clinic for more information.
City of Toronto. “Hepatitis A Fact Sheet.” City of Toronto, 8 June 2018, www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/hepatitis-a-fact-sheet/.
“Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public | Division of Viral Hepatitis | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019, www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm#D2.
“For Health Professionals: Hepatitis A.” Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada.ca, 1 May 2019, www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/hepatitis-a/for-health-professionals.html.
“Hepatitis A.” Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada.ca, 6 Nov. 2015, www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/food-poisoning/hepatitis-a.html.