Hapatitis-B Virus - Travelers
Hepatitis B - General
Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which is present in the blood and body fluids of an infected individual. The virus can be transmitted from mother to baby at birth as well as through unprotected sexual intercourse and unsterilized needles. HBV infection can cause acute illness that leads to loss of appetite; tiredness; pain in muscles, joints, or stomach; diarrhea or vomiting; and yellow skin or eyes (jaundice). HBV can also cause chronic infection, especially in infants and children, that leads to liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and death. Each year in the United States, an estimated 200,000 people have new HBV infections, of whom more than 11,000 people are hospitalized and 20,000 remain chronically infected. This disease is not only restricted to isolated areas but is found in the most developed countries including Europe and America. The following figures should be a proof of this: overall, an estimated 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic HBV infection, and 4,000 to 5,000 people die each year from hepatitis B related chronic liver disease or liver cancer.
Hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent hepatitis B virus infection.
Hepatitis B can affect anyone. If you have had other forms of hepatitis, you can still get hepatitis B.
Get vaccinated because Hepatitis B is preventable.
Your risk is higher if you
- have sex with someone infected with HBV
- have sex with more than one partner
- are a man and have sex with a man
- live in the same house with someone who has lifelong HBV infection
- have a job that involves contact with human blood
- shoot drugs
- are a patient or work in a home for the mentally disabled
- have hemophilia
- travel to areas where hepatitis B is common
Your risk is also higher if your parents were born in Africa. If you are at risk for HBV infection, ask your health care provider about hepatitis B vaccine. All babies, beginning at birth, should get hepatitis B vaccines. If a vaccine was never given, children of 11 - 12 years of age should get vaccinated.
How do you get it?
You get hepatitis B by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; for example, you can become infected by having sex or sharing needles with an infected person. A baby can get hepatitis B from an infected mother during childbirth.
Hepatitis B is not spread through food or water or by casual contact.
Who is a carrier?
Sometimes, people who are infected with HBV never recover fully from the infection; they carry the virus and can infect others for the rest of their lives.
You may have hepatitis B (and be spreading the disease) and not know it; sometimes a person with HBV infection has no symptoms at all.
If you have the symptoms can be:
- your eyes or skin may turn yellow
- you may lose your appetite
- you may have nausea. vomiting, fever, stomach or joint pain
- you may feel extremely tired and not be able to work for weeks or months
There is no cure for hepatitis B; this is why prevention is so important. Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection against HBV. Three doses are needed for complete protection.
If you have HBV in your blood you can give hepatitis B to your baby. Babies who get HBV at birth may have the virus for the rest of their lives, can spread the disease and can get cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
All pregnant women should be tested for HBV early in their pregnancy. If the blood test is positive, the baby should receive a vaccine along with another shot, hepatitis B immune globulin (called H-BIG), at birth. The vaccine series should be completed during the first 6 months of life.
Who should be vaccinated?
- All babies, at birth
- All children 11-12 years of age who have not been vaccinated
- Persons of any age whose behavior puts them at high risk for HBV infection
- Persons whose jobs expose them to human blood
Safety of Vaccine
Hepatitis B vaccines have been shown to be very safe when given to infants, children or adults. More than 500 million persons have received the vaccine worldwide. The most common side effects from hepatitis B vaccination are pain at the injection site and mild to moderate fever. Studies show that these side effects are reported no more frequently among those that are vaccinated than those that were not. Among children receiving both hepatitis B vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine, these mild side effects have been observed no more frequently than among children receiving DTP vaccine alone.
Getaway Africa does not take any responsibility for any diseases contracted due to the information given in this document. Please consult your doctor before travelling into Africa.
The use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply an endorsement by Getaway Africa.
List of Diseases
- Yellow Fever
- Escherichia Coli
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid Fever
- Hepatitis B Virus
- HIV Disease
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