Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2003 Feb;21(2):143-52.

Viral hepatitis in international travellers: risks and prevention.

Author information

Department of Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, P.O. Box 3354, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Viral hepatitis is caused by a number of unrelated hepatotrophic viruses, known and unknown. Five hepatitis viruses namely HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV and HEV have been well characterized and the epidemiology and disease pattern of each agent has been defined. In the West, HAV, HBV and HCV are major causes of viral hepatitis. In the East, HEV is the most common cause of viral hepatitis. HAV is ubiquitous in childhood in such countries and accounts for less than 4% of disease in adults. Viral hepatitis becomes a problem to an international traveller when he envisages a journey from low endemic to high endemic area and is susceptible to the infection endemic at his destination. Millions of such potentially susceptible travellers from Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand visit endemic areas every year for various reasons. Viral hepatitis is the most common reported immunization-preventable disease among travellers to developing countries. Imported viral hepatitis incapacitates the incumbents for an average of 4-10 weeks. Considering the magnitude of the travel, the number of cases of viral hepatitis and case fatality of around 2%, the disease causes significant morbidity and mortality in such communities. It has been estimated that viral hepatitis occurs 100 times more frequently than typhoid fever and 1,000 times more often than cholera in travellers to developing countries. Hepatitis A is the most common form of viral hepatitis in travellers and cumulative data have shown a risk of 3-6 cases/1,000 persons/month of stay whereas the risk of acquiring hepatitis B is 10 times lower.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center