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Hepatitis A – Could You Be Returning From Your Overseas Trip With An Unwanted Travel Souvenir?

Aussies are known for their sense of adventure and their keen drive to explore the world.And, the more we explore the more daring we become, wanting to experience the local culture, participate in local life, and of course dining out and having fun. This can increase the risk of contracting hepatitis A which is a common infection in developing countries.Even at the most luxurious hotels there are no guarantees, as it only takes the tiniest slip up to put guests at risk; highlighting just how important it is to take the right precautions.So while it’s fun to be an intrepid traveller, some of us may bring back more than just an adventure story!Studies show most hepatitis A cases in New South Wales (69%) are from travel abroad.1  Of those, two thirds were returning travellers and on average, every second infected traveller gave it to another person they lived with.i  Yet, hardly any attention is given to how we can affect the spread of the disease.Hepatitis A can take anywhere from 15 to 50 days for symptoms to reveal themselves. When you think about it, this is plenty of time and opportunity for a nasty virus to spread. Just think of where you’ve been and who you’ve been in contact with in the last couple of months!Nicholas Zwar, Professor of General Practice in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, advises travellers to be more cautious.“Protecting yourself against travel related infections also protects those you are coming back home to.“More than ever before, this is important to understand as Australians set off on more far-flung and exciting travel experiences. And because of this, I encourage all travellers to avoid being as adventurous with their health as they are with travel plans,” Zwar alerted.With travel advice readily available, taking precautions and seeking guidance is the easy, responsible action to take before you travel. To ensure you have time to take full advantage of the advice and get the right immunisations, it is recommended pre-travel health advice is sought out at least six weeks before departure.References:1. Freeman E, et al. NSW Pub Health Bull 2012;23(7-8):153–157.