What is it?
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases affecting travelers and can cause either acute or chronic infection.
About 90 to 95 percent of adults with acute hepatitis B infection will clear the virus on their own within six months, and develop lifelong protection against it. Some people are unable to clear the virus, and develop chronic hepatitis B. Untreated chronic hepatitis B can later develop into serious health problems.
What is my risk?
Your risk depends of several factors: destination, length of stay, what you do when you are travelling and whether you have direct contact with blood or other body fluids. The risk increases with certain activities, such as unprotected sex, sharing needles, tattooing and acupuncture.
Aid and health care workers and anyone who receives medical or dental care with unsterilized or contaminated equipment in a country where hepatitis B occurs are also at greater risk.
How is it transmitted?
Hepatitis B is highly infectious, and is spread from one person to another through exposure to infected blood and body fluids (including semen and vaginal fluid).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can take two to six months to appear.
Many people who are infected with hepatitis B have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Symptoms of acute hepatitis B can include fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and dark urine. Some people develop chronic hepatitis B and most remain contagious for the rest of their lives. Chronic infection may lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and/or liver cancer. Most people with chronic hepatitis B are unaware of their infection.
Can it be treated?
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. Most adults completely recover from the infection by getting lots of rest, proper nutrition and fluids. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat some chronic cases of hepatitis B infection.
How can I prevent it?
Get the hepatitis B vaccine
Protect yourself by, avoiding dental, medical or cosmetic procedures that penetrate the ski, Always practice safer sex (use condoms/dental dams)., Do not share personal items such as toothbrushes and razors. and never share needles or syringes.