Hepatitis A vaccine
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus that is mainly spread in sewage-contaminated water, but can also be transmitted from person to person or via food contaminated by an infected person or irrigated with contaminated water. It is common in countries with poor drinking water hygiene. More than 80% of adults who get hepatitis A get symptoms. Most children under the age of 7 are basically asymptomatic if infected. After undergoing illness, you become immune for the rest of your life.
Hepatitis A virus dies from boiling. To prevent the further spread of infection, the most important thing is good hand hygiene, especially in connection with toilet visits and food handling. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated against it. There is a vaccine only for hepatitis A but also in combination with hepatitis B.
Every year, about 100 people in Sweden are affected by hepatitis A, a little more than half of them have been infected abroad.
The incubation period is two to six weeks, an average of four weeks. You can infect other people during the latter part of the incubation period (seven to ten days before you fall ill yourself) and about a week after the symptoms have appeared, in total you are contagious for three to four weeks.
Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver that can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, sometimes vomiting and stomach pain. Some also turn yellow in the skin and whites of the eyes, so-called jaundice, but not all. Most people experience bothersome fatigue and poor appetite, sometimes for several months. Dark urine and putty-coloured stools may occur. Some have no symptoms at all, others symptoms that last for 1-6 months. The vast majority recover without permanent damage to the liver.
Risk areas for hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is found all over the world, mainly in Africa, Asia, South and Central America and Eastern Europe.
Who should be vaccinated against hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a disease that we recommend vaccinating against almost anywhere you travel, although it is usually more common in low-income countries. When traveling to the countryside in low-income countries, the risk of becoming infected is higher. However, hepatitis A can occur in urban environments and you can become infected in hotels and restaurants with a higher standard.
Vaccination against hepatitis A
Vaccine against hepatitis A alone is taken in two doses with at least six months between doses. One dose is enough before the trip for complete protection. After a second dose, you will have protection against hepatitis A for at least 30 years. If you also want to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, there is a combined vaccine. Then you take two doses before the trip for full protection, four weeks between doses and a third dose after 6-12 months. Three doses of the combined vaccine provide at least 30 years of protection against hepatitis A and lifelong protection against hepatitis B.
- In addition to vaccination, you should be careful with hygiene to avoid hepatitis A infection.
- Cook the food properly and eat while the food is hot.
- Avoid seafood and raw meat as well as unpasteurised dairy products.
- Avoid raw or boiled eggs.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after visiting the toilet or after changing your baby’s nappy, as well as before cooking and eating.
- Peel fruits and vegetables, wash salad in clean water.
- Drink water from sealed bottles, or water that has been boiled / filtered.
- Avoid ice that may be made from tap water.