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Hepatitis A

a.k.a Heppa

An unpleasant bug which can cause nausea, abdominal pain and even liver failure. Travellers across most of the world should beware of contaminated food and water or close contact with infected people.

Key Fact

Recovering from hepatitis A can disrupt daily life for months and lead to long periods off work.1

disease risk map

How do people catch the disease?

By eating food or drinking water contaminated by faeces from someone who has the virus. Hepatitis A can also be caught through sex with an infected person (especially for men who have sex with men) or through injecting illegal drugs.1

Which countries are affected?

Hepatitis A is found in every country but the risk is higher in South America, Africa, Russia and Asia (see map).2

What are the symptoms?

Fever, general feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, discomfort in the abdomen, dark-coloured urine and – because the virus affects the liver – jaundice (yellow eyes or skin).1

How serious is the disease?

In most cases, hepatitis A is not serious and people get better in a couple of months. In rare cases, hepatitis can cause fatal liver failure.1

Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

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
  • Wash hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the toilet1
  • Avoid food and drink (including ice) which may have been prepared in conditions where standards of hygiene are poor or may have been contaminated with sewage3


1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Hepatitis A. July 2017. Available online: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs328/en/ (Last accessed September 2017)

2. 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 September 2017)

3. NHS Choices. Conditions. Hepatitis A. April 2016. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hepatitis-A/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Last accessed September 2017)


UK/TRA/0817/0171c September 2017