Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A illustration

What is hepatitis A?

An unpleasant virus which can cause fever, malaise, nausea, abdominal pain, 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
Disease video poster image

Risk areas for Hepatitis A

Map of risk areas for Hepatitis A
  • Key fact

    Recovering from hepatitis A can disrupt daily life for months and lead to long periods off work.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 some countries have higher incidences than others, in particular South America, Africa, Russia and Asia (see map).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).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 failure, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing liver problems.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 (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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References
  1. World Health Organization. Fact sheets. Detail. Hepatitis A. September 2018. Available online: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a (Last accessed April 2019)
  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 April 2019)
  3. NHS Choices. Conditions. Hepatitis A. March 2019. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-a/ (Last accessed April 2019)

UK-BOTB-1900030 June 2019