Chronic heart failure

December 2010

Clinical

Hepatitis A

Prevention in travellers

Volume 39, No.12, December 2010 Pages 924-928

Cora A Mayer

Amy A Neilson

This article is the final in our travel medicine series for 2010, providing a summary of prevention strategies and vaccinations for infections that may be acquired by travellers. The series aims to provide practical strategies to assist general practitioners in giving travel advice, as a synthesis of multiple information sources which must otherwise be consulted.

Background

Hepatitis A is the second most common vaccine preventable infection in travellers. Highly effective vaccines exist for its prevention for travellers from 12 months of age, including last minute travellers and those in special risk groups.

Objective/s

Information about hepatitis A infection, its epidemiology and existing vaccine options is presented for use in travel related consultations in general practice.

Discussion

Most travellers at risk of hepatitis A should be vaccinated, as the vaccine is a safe and effective means of prevention. Combination vaccines – hepatitis A/hepatitis B and hepatitis A/typhoid – aim to facilitate the vaccination process for travellers, who are often also at risk of exposure to hepatitis B and typhoid fever.

Hepatitis A is the second most common vaccine preventable infection in travellers, influenza being most common,1 and the most common form of viral hepatitis.2 It is an acute liver infection caused by a hepatovirus of the Picornavirus family, the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A virus is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus shed in large quantities in the stool of infected persons. It can survive for weeks in water, marine sediment, shellfish or soil, and can persist on the hands for several hours and much longer in food kept at room temperature. It is also resistant to heat and freezing.3,4–6

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Article Series

Travel medicine

Type

Clinical

2010