Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B

A nasty bug which infects the liver and is passed on through bodily fluids. Look out for flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain and yellow skin and eyes.

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Key Fact

Every year, more than half a million people die from the complications of Hepatitis B infection.1,2


  • How do people catch these disease?

    • Hepatitis B is spread in blood and body fluids. It is caught through unprotected sex with someone infected with the virus, or through exposure to contaminated blood (for example, while injecting drugs).1,2
    • It can also be caught by sharing toothbrushes or razors, or having body piercing or tattoos using unsterilised equipment.1,5
  • Which countries are affected?

    Hepatitis B is found in every country, but the risk is higher in South America, Africa, Russia and Asia (see map).3

  • What are the symptoms?

    Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen.1,2

  • How serious is the disease?

    • Hepatitis B is a serious disease. Though the initial symptoms generally pass within months, the virus can cause long-term and potentially fatal liver damage.1,2
    • New treatments can keep the virus under control and reduce this risk.4
  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Don’t have unprotected sex (e.g. use condoms)1,2
    • Don’t share equipment to inject drugs2
    • Have tattoos and body piercing only where you can be sure equipment has been sterilised1,3
    • Don’t share personal items that could be contaminated with blood2
  1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Hepatitis B. July 2017. Available online: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/ (Last accessed May 2018)
  2. Gesundheit.GV.AT. Hepatitis B. Available online: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/krankheiten/leber/hepatitis-b (Last accessed May 2018)
  3. World Health Organization. Hepatitis B, countries or areas at risk. 2012. Available online: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_HepB_ITHRiskMap.png (Last accessed May 2018)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow book 2018. Chapter 3 Infectious Diseases Related to Travel. June 2017. Hepatitis B. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/hepatitis-b (Last accessed May 2018).

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