Combo Vaccine Fights Hepatitis

PHILADELPHIA, Pa-SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals will being making and distributing a new combination vaccine that fights both hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

The Twinrix vaccine will protect those 18 years of age and older from the threatening viruses. The vaccine has now be recommended for travelers who will be visiting areas with high rates of both diseases, such as Africa, parts of South America, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia.

Hepatitis A infection can be contracted by contaminated water or food. Any region of the world without proper sanitation or running water is considered high risk.

Hepatitis B can be spread through infected blood or other body fluids. Healthcare workers are often at high risk for infection.

Both viruses can be asymptomatic. However, hepatitis A can cause fever, malaise, jaundice, liver failure and death. Hepatitis B infections can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer in a small number of people.

In clinical trials, the Twinrix vaccine was given in a three dose series during a six-month period. It was found to be as safe and effective as the current hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.

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