Hepatitis B is one of the range of viral diseases which affect the liver and it can cause long term morbidity as well as mortality in certain patients. Estimates suggest that over two billion people throughout the world are currently infected or have been at some stage during their life. Contact with body fluids such as through contaminated needle-stick injury or via perinatal contact from mother to child account for the main risk of transmission. The virus has been isolated from semen, vaginal fluid, tears and saliva. Even though the virus has been isolated from various blood-sucking arthropods (eg mosquitoes & bedbugs) there is no evidence of multiplication of the virus in these insects.
It has been estimated that Hepatitis B is about 100 time more infective than the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)..
It is advisable that any traveller who may be at risk of contact with infected bodily fluids or blood products, needle sticks or sharps or human bites undergo vaccination against Hepatitis B virus. The vaccine is given on three occasions over a six month period and it is estimated that between 80% to 90% of adults are provided with very adequate protection.