Hepatitis B is a viral infection that is spread through infected blood or bodily fluids. It can lead to severe liver problems and is often fatal. Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV.
Countries at risk
Hepatitis B occurs worldwide. Areas where there is a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B include Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China, South and Central America, Africa, South East Asia and many islands in the South Pacific.
If you are a tourist or short-term traveller, your risk is low. Risk is linked to behaviour - any activity causing contact with blood or body fluids can put you at risk.
Travellers may also be exposed when receiving medical or dental treatment while abroad. Infection can be spread via sexual intercourse, needle sharing, blood transfusions and injections, as well as through tattooing, body piercing and acupuncture.
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B include mild fever, flu-like symptoms, high temperature, gastro-intestinal upset, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, yellow skin and eyes.
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease. Travellers to areas at risk may be recommended one of the following vaccination courses:
- Course of three injections of Energix B to cover against Hepatitis B
- Course of three injections of Twinrix to cover against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
The vaccine is a course of three injections, which are given rapidly over a one month course or over a standard six month course.