Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B Disease Icon Hepatitis B

Question Mark Disease Icon What is it and how is it spread?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver transmitted by contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.1,2 It can be passed from mother to baby,2 through a puncture to the skin, when blood splashes into the eyes, nose or mouth, or through unprotected sex.1,2

Who is at risk from Hepatitis B icon Who is at risk?

Hepatitis B is most common in parts of East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. High rates of infection are found in the Amazon and southern parts of Eastern and Central Europe, in the Middle East and India. The risk of contracting hepatitis B for most travellers in Western Europe and North America are low.1

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B? What are the symptoms?

Often, hepatitis B has no symptoms. Symptoms are more common in adults than children and may include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Persistent infection may lead to liver failure or liver cancer.1,2

Individuals with chronic (long-term) infection may show signs of progressive liver disease and have a higher risk of liver cancer.2

How can Hepatitis B be prevented Icon How can it be prevented?

When travelling, avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids to reduce the risk of infection. This includes using protective precautions where contact is unavoidable, for example if you are working, and avoiding:1

  • Unprotected sex with new partners
  • Tattooing, piercing and acupuncture (unless sterile equipment is used)
  • Sharing needles and other drug injecting equipment
  • Sharing shaving equipment

You could also consider taking a sterile medical equipment kit.1

Hepatitis B vaccination should be considered for all travellers who put themselves at risk, including:1

  • People who have unprotected sex
  • People who may be directly exposed to blood through their occupation
  • People who could be exposed to contaminated needles through drug use, or medical or dental care
  • People with medical conditions such as those planning on undergoing dialysis overseas and those travelling for medical care
  • People who take part in contact sports
  • People who are adopting children from a country with an intermediate or high prevalence of hepatitis B
  • Long stay travellers to high or intermediate prevalence areas

How can Hepatitis B be treated Icon How can it be treated?

There is no specific treatment for hepatitis B. Treatment aims to prevent liver cancer and reduce infectiousness.2

Further Information Icon Where can I get further information?

If you have any questions or concerns about exposure to hepatitis B, please speak to your doctor or travel health practitioner for more information.

Make sure you contact your GP or travel health practitioner in plenty of time before you travel to discuss the ways you can help to keep yourself healthy whilst away. You should try and contact them at least 4–6 weeks before your trip.

After your trip, you should contact your GP if you develop a fever or notice any other unusual symptoms.

The information provided is a summary that was up to date when this article was published; however, recommendations may be updated from time to time. Please always consult with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist well in advance of travelling.


1. Travel Health Pro. Hepatitis B. Available at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/disease/71/hepatitis-b. Accessed February 2024. 2. Fit For Travel. Hepatitis B. Available at: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/hepatitis-b. Accessed February 2024.

MAT-XU-2203031(v2.0) | February 2024

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