Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a virus that will cause infectious inflammation of the liver. It is common in developing countries and transmitted from food and water that has been contaminated.

Many people will have mild symptoms including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Active hepatic disease may last up to 90 days.

Some people may become jaundiced and rarely it is a cause of death more notably in older travelers. People who have grown up in developing countries where Hepatitis A was present may already have an immunity built up to it.

If a person has had Hepatitis A at any time in their life they are felt to be immune to it. If there is any doubt whether a previous infection was actually Hepatitis A or not, a blood test can be done to determine this.
Hepatitis A may infect food and water.

Uncooked shellfish (especially oysters) may cause Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A also affects children and a vaccination is recommended for children 1 year and over. Risk is estimated to be 3-6 per 1000 per month to 20-1000 per month in higher risk travelers.
Individuals who are at high risk include: ethnic populations, homosexual or bisexual men, IV drug users, military personnel, individuals with liver disease, who routinely receive blood products, lab workers, and primate handlers.

One dose of the Hepatitis A vaccine will provide protection for up to twelve month.

A booster can be given 6 - 12 months or later after the initial shot.

The second shot will boost the response for 10 years and it is felt it may even last longer even lifelong. Hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended and considered safe for pregnant women who plan to travel.

Pregnant women are more likely to become sick from a Hepatitis A infection.

Recently expanded indications for vaccination include: fast food workers, all children, daycare workers, and medical people.
It is recommended for ALL non-immunes going to developing countries.

These countries include: All of Latin America, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia (except for Singapore and Japan). Eastern Europe including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Albania is also included (but not Greece or Southern Europe in General).
Although the vaccine provides protection against Hepatitis A caution should still be taken when infectious agents may be present in both food and water, because of the other infections or pollutants that may be present as well.

Hepatitis E is similar to Hepatitis A although there is no immunization to protect against it yet.

Hepatitis E is also transmitted through food and water.

Hepatitis A links:
Hepatitis Foundation International
Canadian Liver Foundation