July 21st, 2015

Why You Should Care About Hep A

According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus which attacks the liver1. The Center for Disease Control states that new cases reported in the U.S. is around 3,000 each year—a 90% decrease of the last several decades.2

So why should you care about Hepatitis A? Because it is often referred to as “traveller’s disease”, an illness contracted by travelling in developing countries that have poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

How is Hep A transmitted?

The Hep A virus is only found in the stool (feces) of an infected person. Close contact with an infected person who doesn’t practice proper hygiene can spread the virus. The virus can also be spread via food and water—such as eating food that has been washed in contaminated water. When food preparers don’t practice safe hygiene while handling food, you could contract it by eating in a restaurant.

What are the Symptoms of Hep A?

According to the Government of Canada Travel and Health3, if you are travelling in regions at risk for Hep A, such as Africa, Asia and Central and South America, watch for the following symptoms. They can take anywhere from 15 to 50 days to appear:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abdonimal discomfort
  • dark urine
  • grey-coloured stool
  • jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)

 How Can I Prevent Contracting Hep A?

According to Health Canada4, “Hepatitis A can be prevented by a variety of vaccines adapted to individual needs.” If you are planning travel to a rural area, or think you may be eating meals in conditions of poor sanitation or unsafe food handling practices, consult with a London Drugs Travel

Medicine Pharmacist. They can advise you on medications, vaccinations and health supplies that will keep you as safe as possible during your trip.

Book an appointment here: http://www.ldtravelclinics.ca/Locations.aspx

 

1 http://www.liver.ca/liver-disease/types/viral_hepatitis/Hepatitis_A.aspx

2 http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/A/PDFs/HepAGeneralFactSheet.pdf

3 http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/diseases/hepatitis-a

4 http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/dc-ma/hep-eng.php#hep_a

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