(NC)-T- shirts, postcards, one-of-a-kind jewellery, local delicacies - these are just some of the items travelling Canadians regularly bring home after a vacation. But, some are also returning with unwanted surprises for their family and friends, namely serious diseases like hepatitis A and B.
Despite rising gas prices and a changing economy, Canadians continue to travel abroad. A recent Statistics Canada report found that Canadians took 659,000 trips to overseas countries in June 2008 alone.
"The health and sanitation standards here in Canada are higher than many of the countries we often travel to," says Dr. Morris Sherman, a medical advisor for the Canadian Liver Foundation. "Serious diseases like hepatitis A and B are endemic to many regions around the globe, and travellers to those areas risk bringing these illnesses back to family here in Canada."
Many Canadians who were born in endemic regions of the world have developed a natural immunity to viruses like hepatitis A and B. Canadian-born family or friends who travel with them do not have the same natural immunity and may be at risk of contracting the disease if exposed. And, hepatitis A, for example, has an incubation period of 15 to 50 days during which individuals are infectious, but may not realize it, possibly inadvertently infecting close friends and family.
The best way for Canadians to ensure they are protected against hepatitis A and B is to get vaccinated. There are many immunization options to protect Canadians from hepatitis A and B. For more information on hepatitis risks and how to avoid them, speak with your doctor or visit www.liver.ca.
Due to recent changes in Canadian law, Canadians may be prosecuted in Canadian courts for certain acts committed against significant cultural sites and objects outside Canada. In addition to foreign laws protecting cultural heritage, Canadian law now prohibits the illegal export of cultural objects from certain countries, whether or not the object is brought to Canada. For more information, consult www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/travel