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Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A illustration

What is hepatitis A?

An unpleasant virus which can cause fever, malaise, nausea, abdominal discomfort, jaundice and even in rare cases liver failure. Travellers across most of the world should beware of this virus lurking in contaminated food and water.

Hepatitis A illustration

Risk areas for Hepatitis A

Map of risk areas for Hepatitis A
  • Key fact

    Recovering from hepatitis A symptoms may be slow and can take several weeks or months.1

  • How do you get 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

  • Which countries are affected by hepatitis A?

    Hepatitis A is found across the world, but in some areas the prevalence is higher, in particular in Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East (see map).1,2

  • What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?

    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) are all potential symptoms of hepatitis A.1

  • How serious is hepatitis A?

    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 problems, especially for the elderly.1,3

  • Can I prevent getting hepatitis A?

    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 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 shellfish and raw fruit and vegetables.3
    • Practice safer sex and avoid sharing needles.3

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  1. World Health Organization. Fact sheets. Detail. Hepatitis A. June 2022. Available online: (Last accessed May 2023)
  2. Pedersini R, et al. HAV & HBV vaccination among travellers participating in the National Health and Wellness Survey in five European countries. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2016;14(3):221-232.
  3. NHS Choices. Conditions. Hepatitis A. October 2022. Available online: (Last accessed May 2023)

UK-BOTB-2100022 (v2.0) May 2023