Nurse Mia Ross warns travelers going to or from Mexico that there is Hepatitis A in Tulum.
I recently took a lovely vacation to Tulum, Mexico and I drank fresh coconut water every afternoon, ate guacamole by the pound, swam in the turquoise sea, napped under the sun. Oh, and I was probably exposed to Hepatitis A. This unsettling information was confirmed by a New York City Department of Health alert stating, “As of May 1st, 2015, 27 cases of Hepatitis A infection have been reported among United States travelers who went to Tulum, Mexico; 11 of the 27 are New York City residents.” It warns that all travelers to Tulum who returned within the last 14 days should receive one dose of Hepatitis A vaccine.
Fortunately, I am immune to Hepatitis A, but as a professional healthcare provider, these numbers concern me. The CDC’s travel vaccination guide clearly recommends a Hepatitis A vaccination for people ages 12 and older traveling to Mexico. But who actually looks at the CDC website?
Hepatitis A is not something to mess with. If you recently visited Tulum…
- Keep an eye out for these symptoms (fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, upset stomach, unable to hold food down, joint pain, yellow skin)
- Check your immunization status. If you are not immune to Hepatitis A, you may be a candidate for a post-exposure vaccination, which will greatly reduce the chance of contracting the virus.
- Visit your healthcare practitioner. Hepatitis A can remain quiet in your system for weeks. Even if you’re feeling fine, contact your provider as soon as possible.
If you enjoy traveling internationally, especially to Tulum, you should complete the Hepatitis A immunization series. Use this current outbreak as motivation to get caught up. This way, you won’t need to think twice about indulging in that guacamole.
Mia Ross on her recent trip to Tulum, Mexico. Totally relaxed. Fully vaccinated.
Other Useful Facts:
- Hepatitis A spreads by an oral-fecal route. Even minuscule amounts of contaminated feces can cause infection if ingested.
- Most international Hepatitis A outbreaks are a result of contaminated food or water. The virus is killed by cooking food to a temperature greater than 185 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one minute. Remember, though, that the virus can still be spread if the food is contaminated after cooking.
- The Hepatitis A vaccine is normally given in two doses approximately 6-12 months apart. Ideally, this series will be completed before international travel. For those not immune and pressed for time, the first dose can be given any day before departure as a last resort. Again, the sooner, the better.