Hepatitis A – How is it prevented?

Those who are not vaccinated against hepatitis A can get infected if they come in direct contact with food, drinks or other items that have been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person.1,2,3  Travellers to countries where hepatitis A infection is common should take care to avoid potentially contaminated food and water.1,2,5 Some recommendations include:5

  • Eat well cooked food only, but never reheated, especially with meats such as chicken and seafood (shellfish)
  • Eat food as hot as possible
  • Eat only fruits or vegetables you have washed and peeled yourself
  • Avoid leftovers (particularly if they have been reheated), unpasteurised dairy products, raw shellfish, sushi, cold cuts of meat, salads and peeled fruit
  • Avoid drinking tap water
  • Consider buying a good water filter for personal on-going water supplies
  • Only using bottled water (the seal must be intact) to drink and brush teeth
  • Ensure ice cubes are made from purified water. Never trust them unless you know where they came from

An easy way to remember what to avoid is: if you cannot boil it, cook it or peel it — forget it5

New Zealand health authorities strongly recommend complete vaccination against Hepatitis A for all travellers visiting moderate-risk to high-risk countries.6 

Havrix®is a vaccine available in New Zealand to prevent hepatitis A:7

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