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Hepatitis B vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccination

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases affecting travelers, and can cause acute or chronic infection.

The risks you run depend on several factors: your destination, the length of your stay, the activities you take part in during your trip and whether you come into direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Some destinations present a higher risk of infection, as certain regions have a higher number of people with chronic hepatitis B in the general population.

Healthcare workers, aid workers and anyone receiving healthcare or dental care using unsterilized or contaminated equipment are at increased risk of infection in a country where hepatitis B is present. The risk increases with certain activities, such as unprotected sex, needle sharing, tattooing and acupuncture.

  • Symptoms may take two to six months to appear.
  • Many people who have contracted hepatitis B have no symptoms or only mild ones.
  • Symptoms of acute hepatitis B can include fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and dark urine. A small number of people will contract jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
  • Some people who contract chronic hepatitis B will remain contagious for life. Chronic infection can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and/or liver cancer. Most people with chronic hepatitis B are unaware of their infection.

Source: Health Canada