Hepatitis B

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver disease. Hepatitis B virus is found in the blood and body fluids of infected people. People with hepatitis B virus infection can spread it to others.

You can get hepatitis B virus if you

  • Have sex with an infected partner.
  • Share needles, syringes, or drug preparation equipment with an infected person.
  • Share personal care items such as razors, toothbrushes, or medical equipment, such as a glucose monitor, with an infected person.
  • Get cut with a sharp instrument or have a needlestick injury in a health care setting.
  • Touch the blood or open sores of an infected person.
  • Hepatitis B can be spread from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

Early symptoms of hepatitis B may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes).

For some people, hepatitis B can become a chronic infection. The long-term health effects of chronic hepatitis B can cause early death from liver disease and liver cancer.

Who is at risk?

Information by Destination
woman in airport

Where are you going?

Hepatitis B occurs in nearly every part of the world but is more common in some countries in Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. 

Although the risk to most travelers is low, people who travel for medical purposes (medical tourists) or people who need emergency medical care while traveling may be more likely to get infected.   

What can travelers do to prevent disease?

The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccine is a routine vaccination that infants in the United States receive at birth. The hepatitis B vaccine is over 90% effective and has been routinely recommended for infants since 1991. The vaccine is given in 2, 3, or 4 shots, and the series of shots is usually completed by 6 months of age.

Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all unvaccinated travelers under 60 years old and is also recommended for travelers 60 years and older going to a country where hepatitis B virus infection is common. The vaccine is given in 2 or 3 doses. To find the hepatitis B vaccine recommendations for your destination check CDC's destination pages.

It usually takes 6 months to be fully vaccinated against hepatitis B so if you’ll be traveling internationally within 6 months talk to your doctor about accelerated vaccination options including the 2-dose series (Heplisav-B) and accelerated dosing of the combination hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine.

After Travel


If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. 

If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel.


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