Hepatitis-A is a disease of the liver that's serious enough to require hospital stays and prolonged loss of work in some people.
Travelers who visit countries where sanitation is not ideal are easily exposed to contaminated water or ice, or to food that was handled by an infected person who did not wash his hands properly after going to the bathroom.
There is no magic cure for Hepatitis-A. But there is a vaccine that provides immunity. Hepatitis-A is prevalent in so many destinations, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends Hepatitis-A vaccine for travelers to every country in the world, except five - Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Western Europe.
To prepare for travel, start your series of two vaccinations at least a month before departure. If that is not possible, a shot of immune globulin (IG) will provide temporary immunity. You should not get the Hepatitis-A vaccine if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose.
- Have ever had a severe allergy to any vaccine product.
- Are ill at the time the shot is to be given.
- Are pregnant (safety is not yet determined).