While traveling the globe people tend to be focused on the sites they will see, the photos they will take, the new food they will try and the memories that they will make.  What travelers often times forget about before and during their travels is their health.  In this article I want to briefly discuss Hepatitis A, one of the most common diseases encountered by travelers abroad, and how best to keep safe and disease free.  

Hepatitis A Causes and Symptoms:

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus and leads to inflammation of the liver.  A traveler can contract hepatitis A via blood-to-blood contact, consuming food or drink that has come in contact with infected blood or stool, sexual activity involving anal contact, and consumption of undercooked shellfish.  Symptoms of hepatitis A include: dark urine, abdominal aches and pains, fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), diarrhea and nausea/vomiting.  In some severe cases, these symptoms can persist for many months and contiue to come back (chronic hepatitis A) but in most cases these symptoms go away after a few weeks.

Hepatitis A Prevention:

Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable disease.  It is recommended that any person looking to travel to an area where hepatitis A is prevalent get vaccinated.  The vaccine is around 94% effect after four weeks, so it is wise to get the shot as early as possible before you travel.  The first dose is effect for a year.  There is a booster that can be taken six to twelve months after the first shot that makes the effects last for 20 years.

The other way to prevent contraction is to be smart while traveling.  Always peel your fruit and vegetables and if you do wash them, use bottled water to do so.  Wash your hands with soap and hot water as often as possible, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.  Hand sanitizer is a good option as well.  Always practice safe sex.  

If you follow these simple instructions, you should be able to enjoy your trip abroad.  Always remember that it is better to be cautious and enjoying your travels then it is to be stuck in a bathroom, a bed, or a hospital.