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Travel risk of hepatitis ignored

British overseas travellers should take care when travelling to South Asian countries to protect themselves from infectious diseases, a UK charity warns.

A team of senior doctors state there is a growing problem with widespread ignorance among overseas travellers of the need to take health and safety precautions.

The doctors said: "Around 600 million people in the world are infected with hepatitis B and C and 350-400 million people are infected with Hepatitis B and 180 million infected with hepatitis C.

"Only hepatitis B virus is 100 times more infectious than HIV and over 1 million deaths are directly related to hepatitis-B infection, which is the ninth leading cause of death in the world."

The doctors warned those who plan to tavel to Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh to minimise their exposure to health hazards by ensuring that they do not share razor or any items that could be contaminated with blood.

They added: "Travellers must visit their GP, practice nurse or travel clinic up to eight weeks before travelling to get the best advice on protection."

Association of British Pilgrims UK

Do you think most patients are ignorant of the risks of infection abroad? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Yes, but I have initiated a big display in our surgery and request at least six weeks notice so that hep B imms can be initiated prior to holidays if required. Last-minute travellers may have time to undertake a shorter schedule or normally come back after their holiday and initiate a course then so that they have cover for future holidays." - Mary Swinney, Hebburn Tyne & Wearn

"Yes, and more often than not they leave travel vacs to the last minute and don't realise time constraints in being adequately immunised." - Sharon Tucker, Practice Nurse, Sudbury Suffolk