Hepatitis B concern in the UK
Two separate Hepatitis B related issues have been discussed in the UK press this weekend. Firstly the tragic death of a woman in Wales thought to have been infected with the virus in hospital during cardiac care. There is concern that other patients may also have been exposed.
Secondly, the Daily Mail has reported that the incidence of Hepatitis B in this country has doubled in the last decade. This is thought to be due to immigration from countries where the virus is prevalent, and from unprotected sex.
Hepatitis B is spread through unprotected sex, contact with blood and body fluids and from mother to baby. Contact with needles for medical or dental care, acupuncture, tattoos, drug use etc can pass on the Hepatitis B virus. Injuries caused through childhood play and contact sports like rugby, where there are cuts and scrapes with close contact with others are also a method of transmission.
We at The Travel Clinic Ltd, have frequently advised Hepatitis B vaccine to those who are at risk due to travel to countries that have a high incidence of the disease, or occupational risk such as medical staff likely to be exposed to body fluids. Other countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and many EU countries routinely vaccinate children against Hepatitis B through their National Vaccine Schedule. The World Health Organisation and the British Medical Association are urging the UK authorities to do likewise.
Infection with Hepatitis B causes an acute liver disease, and will often lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis.
If you wish to protect yourself or your family against Hepatitis B, or simply would like some more information, please get in contact with The Travel Clinic Ltd, Cambridge or Ipswich.