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ASTMH: Vaccination May Not Always Prevent Hepatitis A

Case report describes risk of traveling abroad sooner than 14 days after vaccination

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis A infection can occur in travelers who go abroad sooner than the recommended 14 days after hepatitis A vaccination, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Nicholas Senn, M.D., of Policlinique Medicale Universitaire in Madang, Papua New Guinea, and a colleague studied a 25-year-old man who traveled to Kenya 11 days after receiving the hepatitis A vaccine Havrix, and who presented with hepatitis A symptoms 14 days after returning from his trip.

The authors note that there have been few case reports of patients who contracted hepatitis A after immunization. They also note that protection against symptomatic hepatitis can be achieved earlier than 14 days.

"In our case, the time period between immunization and departure date was quite short (11 days) and may provide the explanation for the failure if he has been exposed early during the travel," the authors state. "When doing last-minute vaccination against hepatitis A, physicians need to inform the traveler about the suboptimal protection provided by the vaccine given in these conditions. This case highlights also the need for the physician to keep in mind a broad differential diagnosis in febrile returning travelers. It is especially important with hepatitis A because of the potential spreading of the disease among family members."

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