Hepatitis A and B are both very contagious diseases that can cause serious liver infections if the proper preventative methods aren’t taken. These two viruses are somewhat uncommon in the US, but there are many popular travel destinations where both hepatitis A and B are prominent.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a disease that can cause liver infection, according to Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. When the disease infects the liver, it can create difficulties with digestion and waste removal. In areas with poor water sanitation, the disease can easily be spread through contaminated food or water.
Not everyone who becomes infected with the disease shows symptoms, especially if the patient is a young child. But those that do experience symptoms may have nausea, vomiting, fever and jaundice. Most who come down with the disease recover within six weeks and also build an immunity to Hepatitis A.
What is Hepatitis B?
Much like hepatitis A, hepatitis B is a disease that infects the liver. It can cause discomfort in your abdominal, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and jaundice. Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis B can be found worldwide, especially since it is spread through bodily fluids, which can include saliva, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. It can also be spread through needles since the infection can live for days on other surfaces.
Not everyone who has hepatitis B always shows symptoms. Although there is no treatment for the disease, most people do recover, with some becoming carriers for hepatitis B after recovery.
While there are no treatments or medications to cure hepatitis A or B, there is a vaccine available called Twinrix. This immunization is a dual vaccine, preventing both hepatitis A and B and can be given to infants, children and adults. Since the vaccine is given in multiple doses, it’s important to start your doses with enough time between your first dose and the time of your trip abroad.
Before traveling, you should complete the Twinrix series of doses. This includes a total of three doses. The doses need to be given in at least a 6 month period before travel to allow time for the patient to receive all three doses. If you don’t have the time to wait 6 months, there is a Twinrix rapid dosing schedule, which can be given within a time period of one month.
Passport Health offers Twinrix and other hepatitis A and B vaccines for travelers. Make sure you are prepared with Passport Health. Call or book online to schedule your appointment today.
Written for Passport Health by Elle Johnson. Elle is a freelance journalist and social media content creator in Florida. Not only does she enjoy working as a freelancer, but in her free time she enjoys working on fictional stories.