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Mini Travel Health Guide: Comparison of Hepatitis A, B, and C

comparison of hepatitis A, B and C
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Many people have heard of Hepatitis, but it seems like most do not know much about the disease and its different strains. Below I’ve constructed a table that will provide simple, straightforward information that is useful for travelers in regards to the virus. Hepatitis is a disease which can be easily avoided as long as you are always aware of the decisions you are making.

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
Vaccine Preventable?
Yes, vaccine is 94%-100% effective after four weeks. Second shot in sequence, taken six to twelve months after first shot, creates twenty year protection from virus.
Yes, cycle of three shots given over a six month period of time. 95% effective after cycle is complete, often leading to full immunity.
No, there is no vaccine at this time to prevent Hepatitis C.
Likelihood of Getting It
Most likely. Can be passed through all body fluids, on food, or in water.
Less likely. Can only be passed by blood-to-blood contact, such as unprotected sex, sharing of needles, etc.
Less likely. Can only be passed by blood-to-blood contact, such as unprotected sex, sharing of needles, etc.
Common Symptoms
Dark urine, abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
Dark urine, abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, joint pain and pale colored stool. Around 30% of cases have no noticeable symptoms.
Dark urine, abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, joint pain and pale colored stool. Around 80% of cases have no noticeable symptoms.
Treatment
There is no treatment for Hepatitis A. You should see your doctor and treat your symptoms as is appropriate. Rest is a key.
There is no treatment for Hepatitis B. You should see your doctor and treat your symptoms as is appropriate. Rest is a key.
There is no treatment for Hepatitis C. You should see your doctor and treat your symptoms as is appropriate. Rest is a key.
Long Term Effects
Most cases of Hepatitis A go away on their own after a few weeks. The virus does not remain in the body after infection and it gives life long immunity.
90%-95% of cases of Hepatitis B go away on their own in a few weeks or months. In a small number of cases, the infected person carries the virus for longer than six months (chronic hepatitis B). This leads to transmission dangers and can lead to liver problems such as liver cancer or permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C often has no visible symptoms, but the virus does not leave the body on its own. It can be ten to twenty years before any symptoms are seen, often long after irreversible liver damage has occurred. Hepatitis C can often lead to cirrhosis, permanent liver damage or liver cancer.

I hope that this table is helpful in your travels. The most important thing to remember is that all three strains of hepatitis are completely preventable. Get your vaccinations and be smart about what you do and eat while traveling abroad. For more in depth information and travel health tips on hepatitis check out my posts on Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Have fun, and keep traveling safe!

Photo credit: flickr user ToNToNi

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