Viral Hepatitis: 8 Self-Defense Tips for Travelers
Here are eight tips to protect you when traveling to regions where hepatitis is prevalent.
Dirty (reused) hypodermic needles can spread hepatitis, as can acupuncture
needles and instruments used to make tattoos or piercings.
If there’s any doubt that a needle is sanitary – such as in an area where
adequate sterilization techniques are unavailable -- avoid it.
What about medical care? If you’re in a developing country, “don’t get a
blood transfusion or any type of IV unless absolutely necessary,” Palmer says.
Invasive medical or dental treatment makes sense only if the benefits clearly
outweigh the risks -- for example, if you need emergency treatment for
life-threatening injuries sustained in an accident.
8. Steer clear of blood.
It’s prudent to assume that blood from another person is infectious. “Any
blood exposure can transmit hepatitis B and C,” says John W. Ward, MD, director
of the CDC’s division of viral hepatitis.
If you need to render first aid to someone who is bleeding, do your best to
avoid contact with his/her blood. If blood does get on you, wash it off at
“It’s OK to be a Good Samaritan, but make sure open cuts and sores are
covered,” Palmer says.