Disease Description: Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV infection may be asymptomatic or its clinical manifestations may range in severity from a mild illness lasting 1-2 weeks to a severely disabling disease lasting several months. Clinical manifestations of hepatitis A often include fever, malaise, anorexia, nausea, and abdominal discomfort, followed within a few days by jaundice. Hepatitis A infection is acquired throught ingestion of contaminated food or drink.
Risk to Travelers: Hepatitis A is one of the most common vaccine-preventable infections acquired during travel. The risk for acquiring HAV infection for U.S. residents traveling abroad varies with living conditions, length of stay, and the incidence of HAV infection in the area visited (Map).
Prevention - Vaccine: Hepatitis A vaccine, immune globulin (IG), or both, are recommended for all susceptible persons traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high endemicity of HAV infection. Vaccine is usually administered as two doses at time 0 and six months.
Vaccine Adverse Effects: Among adults, the most frequently reported side effects occurring 3-5 days after a vaccine dose are tenderness or pain at the injection site (53%-56%) or headache (14%-16%).
Vaccine Contraindications: Hepatitis A vaccines should not be administered to travelers with a history of hypersensitivity to any vaccine component.
Vaccine Booster Recommendations: Booster not recommended for adults and children who have completed the primary series (2 doses) according to the routine schedule.
Information adapted from CDC Health Information for International Travel (the Yellow Book), http://www.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/table-of-contents.htm