25 September 2002
A recent survey of 500 Australian travellers showed that more than 60 per cent of travellers do not seek travel advice or receive vaccinations for preventable diseases before they depart for exotic locations.
Hepatitis A and B are the 2 most common illnesses in returning travellers that could have been prevented by vaccination.
Physician and Microbiologist at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital Dr Bernie Hudson said: ‘Hepatitis B is a serious disease and a serious threat to travellers heading to popular destinations in South East Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific.
ĎAustralian travellers must remember that, in many of the countries they visit, a high percentage of the population are infectious carriers of the hepatitis B virus.
ĎHepatitis B can lead to chronic hepatitis and potentially early death. Persons infected with hepatitis B virus may carry the virus for the rest of their life and infect others.’
The survey revealed that 42 per cent of recent travellers abroad had taken part in at least one activity that would put them at risk of contracting hepatitis B.
|Hepatitis A and B|
|Hepatitis A||Hepatitis B|
Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food and by person-to-person contact, particularly in areas of poor hygiene. Symptoms include yellowish skin or eyes, nausea, fever and aches and pains.
Hepatitis A can also lead to liver failure and be potentially fatal if not treated. Infected people can be left feeling unwell for months.
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and other body fluids and is 100 times more infectious than HIV. It is also more resilient — it can survive for up to a week in dried blood at room temperature, whereas HIV can only survive for 24 hours.
Activities that put a person at risk of contracting hepatitis B include:
Last Reviewed: 24 September 2002