Hepatitis B

Medical Term: Hepatitis B

Danger Zone: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the interior Amazon basin in South America.

Transmission: Hepatitis B is transmitted by blood and bodily fluids, through sexual contact, blood contact, or reusing needles.

What is it: The hepatitis B virus is a virus that may result in liver disease and also is a risk factor for liver cancer. Hepatitis B is either acute, or less prevalently chronic.

Symptoms: Hepatitis B symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, body aches, fever, and abdominal pain. These hepatitis B symptoms are followed by jaundice within a few days.

Prevention: A hepatitis B vaccination is readily available. Travelers visiting areas with intermediate to high hepatitis B virus transmission rates should ensure that they have received a hepatitis B vaccine.

Fatal: Hepatitis B can be fatal, especially when it leads to liver cancer.

Education is especially important when it comes to the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B vaccination is fairly routine, so consult your doctor to ensure that you are vaccinated before traveling to the areas listed above. Also, it is a good idea to be informed about the nature of blood-borne diseases, which include hepatitis B. Like HIV, hepatitis B is passed mainly from human-to-human through bodily fluids. Medical workers who come in contact with bodily fluids are at a higher risk of being exposed to the hepatitis B virus than the general population, and should be immunized accordingly.

There is no treatment for acute hepatitis B infection, so the secondary task of hepatitis B symptoms treatment is the typical response. For those suffering from chronic hepatitis B, antiviral drugs are available.

Note: Always consult your doctor or another qualified medical professional for the best information about international travel vaccinations.

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