Hepatitis B

Travelling is an exciting adventure but being well prepared will make the experience more enjoyable. Here we explain everything from signs and symptoms to the vaccinations for hepatitis B.

What is hepatitis B and how do you contract it?

Hepatitis B is a virus that spreads through blood and body fluids causing an infection of the liver.

In the UK hepatitis B is fairly uncommon but those with a higher risk include people from or travelling to high risk countries, people who inject illicit drugs and people who have unprotected intercourse with multiple sexual partners. If the virus is present in the blood and body fluid of someone with the infection, here are the ways it can spread:

  • From mother to child during pregnancy – particularly in countries where the infection is common
  • Child to child in countries where the infection is common
  • Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected
  • Sharing drug equipment such as needles, spoons and filters
  • Tattoos, body piercings, medical or dental treatment where equipment isn’t sterilized
  • Sharing toothbrushes or razors with someone who’s infected

Signs and symptoms 

Any symptoms will develop after being exposed to the virus and usually last for two to three months, however hepatitis B symptoms aren’t always experienced. It’s possible for some adults to fight off the virus without them knowing they’ve had it.

Symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (tiredness, fever, general aches and pains)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B in adults usually subside within one to three months. However, sometimes the virus can take longer to pass, lasting for six months or more and becomes classed as chronic hepatitis B.

If you’ve potentially been exposed to hepatitis B, you have any symptoms or you’re at a high risk of coming into contact with the virus, you should seek medical advice from your GP.


If you’re travelling and could be at risk of catching hepatitis B, a course of vaccinations should be considered to help protect you. Individuals at high risk include:

  • Travellers to a high risk area (sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands)
  • People adopting or fostering children from high risk areas
  • People who inject drugs, or have a sexual partner who do
  • Someone who frequently changes sexual partners
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sex workers
  • People working in areas with a risk of coming into contact with blood or body fluids (nurses, prison staff, doctors, dentists, laboratory staff)
  • People receiving regular blood or blood products, and their carer’s

How long does hepatitis B vaccination last?

A course of vaccinations should provide protection for up to 25 years.

Travel & Immunisation Clinic

Signs and symptoms

Those who have picked up the cholera bacteria don’t always have symptoms, but these are some of the typical symptoms you should expect:

• Severe, watery diarrhoea

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Stomach cramps

Cholera symptoms can occur after just after a few hours, but generally develop within a few days of picking up the infection. If untreated, dehydration from severe diarrhoea and vomiting can quickly take effect, causing the body to go into shock because of a big drop in blood pressure.


If you are travelling to a country known to be affected by cholera, here are a few ways you can help protect yourself:

• Only drink boiled or sealed bottled water

• Avoid ice in your drinks and ice creams

• Wash (in safe water) or peel uncooked fruit and vegetables

• Avoid shellfish, seafood and salads

Practice good personal hygiene measures – always wash your hands in safe water before eating and visiting the bathroom


The risk to most travellers is very low and vaccination is usually only recommended in the following circumstances:

• Volunteers/aid workers/medical personnel in disaster relief situations where cholera outbreaks are likely

• Those travelling to work in slums/refugee camps or areas affected by natural disasters

• Those travelling to countries experienacing cholera outbreaks and where care with food and water is difficult or not possible

The drinkable cholera vaccine is given in two or three (depending on age) separate doses, taken from one to up to six weeks apart and completed at least a week before travelling.

Corporate Discount

We offer a 10% discount for our corporate customers and for all travellers in the charity sector. Whether you’re looking for corporate flu vaccinations or need travel vaccinations for your staff, our team of nurses and pharmacists can help. 

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