Hepatitis A is a viral disease that may be transmitted by direct
person-to-person contact; from contaminated water, ice, or shellfish
harvested from sewage-contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables,
or other foods which are eaten uncooked, but which may become contaminated
during handling. Although acute cases may be asymptomatic or mild,
the potential for more severe complications exists.
In developing countries, travelers should minimize their risk
of hepatitis A by taking appropriate food
and beverage precautions. Drinking water, beverages with ice
of unknown purity, uncooked shellfish, and uncooked vegetables or
fruits which are not peeled or prepared by the traveler should be
Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin is recommended for all
susceptible persons traveling to or working in countries with risk
of infection. Hepatitis A vaccine provides long-term protection,
possibly as long as 10 to 20 years after a two-dose regimen in adults.
For optimal immunization, hepatitis A vaccine should be given at
least four weeks prior to entering a risk area. Immune globulin
is sometimes helpful for travelers who cannot receive hepatitis
A vaccine or who do not have sufficient lead time to maximize effectiveness
of the hepatitis A vaccine prior to traveling. However, immune globulin
provides protection against hepatitis A for only about three to
five months following injection, and immune globulin may not always
be available because of a national shortage. A combined hepatitis
A and hepatitis B vaccine is now available.
If you wish to be vaccinated for hepatitis A, please call us for
a clinic appointment.