Travel season is upon us! If you plan on adventuring overseas with friends, family, or for business, it’s always smart to plan ahead and prepare yourself for whatever comes your way. This also includes protecting yourself from illness, infections, and diseases such as hepatitis. While the risk of contracting viral hepatitis has fallen sharply in the United States, the risk is higher for those who travel abroad to contract it, especially in developing countries and in regions with poor sanitation. It still is possible, however, to contract hepatitis while you stay in a 5-star hotel or visit a cleaner part of the world.
Here’s what you can do to minimize your risk of contracting hepatitis A, B, and C while traveling abroad:
Know Your Destination – If you’re traveling to Western Europe, Canada, Japan, or another area where the disease isn’t prevalent and the sanitation is good, then you have a small risk contracting hepatitis. If your travels include visits to developing countries in which hepatitis is prevalent such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon basin, and Asia, then you should take extra precautions.
Wash Your Hands Frequently – Frequent hand washing isn’t just smart in the fight against colds and other viruses like influenza – it is also effective against hepatitis, particularly hepatitis A, which is spread through fecal-oral contact. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water after using the bathroom and before eating to stay as healthy as possible.
Avoid Contaminated Water – Stay away from tap water in regions with poor sanitation. Instead, buy bottled water from a trusted source for drinking, washing your hands, rinsing off fruits and vegetables, and brushing your teeth.
Watch What You Eat – Along the same lines as drinking water, make sure that you watch what you put on your plate. Uncooked foods such as fruits and vegetables, salads, and raw meat or shellfish can transmit hepatitis. If you’re in a location where sanitation is a bit sketchy, stay on the safe side – choose cooked foods and eat them while they’re still hot.
Stay Away From Blood – When you’re traveling abroad, it’s best to assume that any blood that you may encounter from another person is infectious. Any blood exposure can transmit hepatitis B and C. If you do need to give first aid to someone who’s bleeding, it’s okay – just try to avoid any contact with that person’s blood and ensure that any open cuts or wounds you may have are covered. If you do come into contact with blood, make sure to wash it off as soon as possible.
Get Vaccinated – There are safe and effective vaccines available now for hepatitis A and B, and those who plan on traveling overseas are encouraged to get vaccinated. Millbrook Pharmacy can help with this! Just ask our staff about the vaccine, and we can get the process started.
Give yourself peace of mind on your travels overseas. Visit us at Millbrook Pharmacy and get vaccinated and protected from hepatitis. While you’re here, be sure to stock up on all of your traveling necessities like bug repellent, travel-sized products, over-the-counter medications, and more!