Skip to content

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Viral Hepatitis: 8 Self-Defense Tips for Travelers

Here are eight tips to protect you when traveling to regions where hepatitis is prevalent.
By David Freeman
WebMD Feature

In the U.S., the risk of contracting viral hepatitis has fallen sharply in recent years. The risk is higher for Americans who travel abroad -- especially to regions where hepatitis is prevalent and sanitation is poor.

“Travelers who go to non-urban areas of developing countries are most likely to get infected,” says Scott D. Holmberg, MD, chief of the epidemiology and surveillance branch of the division of viral hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. But it’s possible to contract hepatitis even during a stay in a luxury hotel.

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Tips to Help You Manage Hepatitis C

It's important for people with hepatitis C to take control of their health. There's a lot you can do on a day-to-day basis to protect your liver from damage and keep you feeling good. In addition to exercising, eating right and getting medical and emotional support, here are some things to keep in mind.

Read the Tips to Help You Manage Hepatitis C article > >

Several types of hepatitis have been identified. The main types are hepatitis A, B, and C.

Hepatitis A spreads by fecal-oral contact. This can occur by consuming food or beverages contaminated with even tiny amounts of virus-laden feces, or through close personal contact with someone who has hepatitis A. Most people with hepatitis A recover fully within a matter of weeks or months.

Hepatitis B and C spread through contact with infected blood (and, in the case of B, other body fluids). This can occur via sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis B or C, by sharing personal items (nail trimmers, razors, drug paraphernalia, etc.) of an infected person, or from dirty hypodermic needles or transfusions of blood that wasn’t screened for hepatitis. Hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and death.

What can you do to minimize your risk of contracting hepatitis while traveling abroad? Here are eight strategies.

1. Get vaccinated.

Safe, effective vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B, though not yet for hepatitis C. Some experts say vaccination makes sense for just about anyone who leaves the country. “Anyone who travels abroad frequently should probably be vaccinated,” says Melissa Palmer, MD, clinical professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine.

The hepatitis A vaccine is typically given in two doses six months apart. The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given to adults in three doses spread over six months, and to children in three or four doses spread over six to 18 months.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Types, symptoms and treatments.
liver illustration
Myths and facts about this essential organ.
 
woman eating apple
What you need to know.
doctor and patient
What causes it?
 
Hepatitis C Treatment
Article
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
liver illustration
Quiz
passport, pills and vaccine
Slideshow
 
Scientist looking in microscope
Slideshow
Fatty Liver Disease
Article
 
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Article
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection