Protect Yourself From Hepatitis A When Travelling
Protect Yourself From Hepatitis A When Travelling
- New Zealand.
- The United States.
- Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Finland).
Talk to your doctor before visiting any other areas.
If you plan to travel to a part of the world where sanitation is poor or where hepatitis A is a known problem, see your doctor about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine, immunoglobulin (IG), or the combination hepatitis A and B vaccine. (Risk of hepatitis B increases if you go to a high-risk country frequently or stay for a long time.)
- Completing the entire hepatitis A vaccination series protects against HAV for at least 25 years in adults and 14 years in children. 2 In adults (people older than 18 years of age), it is best if the first shot is given at least 4 weeks before a person may be exposed to the hepatitis A virus. But the vaccine does provide some protection shortly after the first shot. 3 A second shot should be given 6 to 18 months later to prolong protection. (Immunization with hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children beginning at 1 year of age or as recommended by your provincial health unit. Two separate doses are given at least 6 months apart. The second shot should be given 6 to 18 months after the first shot.)
- If you receive IG instead of the hepatitis A vaccine and are planning an extended stay in an area where hepatitis A is a problem, you should get a higher dose of IG. You will need to get additional injections of the same high dose of IG every 3 to 5 months.
- Immunoglobulin is made from components of human blood. There is no risk of getting a blood-borne disease from IG made in Canada or the United States. The safety of IG manufactured in other countries cannot be guaranteed.
- If you will be visiting countries where hepatitis A is a problem and you will be staying for less than 3 months, you will receive enough protection by choosing the IG injection. But if you plan to travel abroad on a regular basis, getting the vaccine will save you needing a shot every time you travel.
- People who are allergic to the components of the hepatitis A vaccine and children younger than 1 year of age should receive IG. Depending on the recommendation of the province, children 6 months of age or younger may get IG.
When Travelling in an area where hepatitis A is a known problem or where water quality is questionable:
- Boil water before you drink it. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. If you are at an elevation of 2000 m (6562 ft) or higher, boil the water for 3 minutes. Do not drink tap water or well water or beverages containing ice cubes.
- Do not brush your teeth with tap water or well water.
- Make sure all foods are cooked well, especially shellfish.
- Eat only raw fruits and vegetables that you have washed in uncontaminated water and peeled yourself.
- Don't swim in water that has not been treated with chlorine.
- Don't drink bath or shower water.
- Sharapov UM (2012). Infectious diseases related to travel: Hepatitis A. The Yellow Book: CDC Health Information for International Travel 2012. New York: Oxford University Press. Also available online: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/hepatitis-a.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Hepatitis A FAQs for health professionals. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HAV/HAVfaq.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). Update: Prevention of hepatitis A after exposure to hepatitis A virus and in international travelers. Updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR, 56(RR-41): 1080–1084. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5641a3.htm.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
Current as of: November 14, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.