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Bug of the month: Hepatitis B.

Many Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections occur without symptoms, but a small proportion of sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, vague abdominal pain, and joint pain which often progresses to jaundice. The severity of infection ranges from asymptomatic infections which are only detected by blood tests, to severe chronic disease which may lead to liver cancer. HBV is widespread among infants and children in high-risk areas such as Africa and Asia. In other areas, such as the UK and USA, infection is more common in young adults. HBV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse and by using contaminated blood, needles, syringes and surgical instruments. The incubation period is usually between 45 and 180 days, but can be as short as 14 days or as long as nine months. If you're in a high-risk group or you're planning to stay a while in a high-risk area, you should consider getting immunised. It's worth carrying a sterile needle and syringe kit with you on your travels. Getting tattooed or having your body pierced while in a high-risk area is asking for trouble.

Bug of the month is written by Sue Taylor, who is travel health advisor to the British Airways Travel Clinics. For your nearest BATC call 01276 68504. To obtain a health brief tailored to your journey call the MASTA Traveller's Health Line on 09068 224100 (calls charged at 50p per minute).

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Date:Jun 1, 1999
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