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Saskatoon man urges travellers to get vaccinated for hepatitis A

Watch above: Local business person Bill Stampe contracted hepatitis A while on vacation in Mexico. He discusses his ordeal and the importance of getting vaccinated before travelling.

SASKATOON – A Saskatoon man is urging travellers to get vaccinated after he contracted hepatitis A during a trip to Mexico. Bill Stampe told Global News that he thought he was protected because he had a vaccination back in 1995.

“My body was basically shutting down,” he said. “I thought I would be okay, and I guess I was wrong.”

Stampe says his health deteriorated rapidly after returning to Canada.

Within eight hours of being checked into Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, he was airlifted to University Hospital in Edmonton on April 26, where doctors determined he had contacted hepatitis A.

Stampe says doctors wanted to be ready to do a liver transplant in the case his liver failed.

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“I was almost dead, really,” he said. He added his urine was so dark, “it looked like Coke. It was pretty serious.”

Recovery was not easy. His weight fluctuated and he felt bloated and sick in general.

“Oh my god, when am I going to get muscles and fat back?” Stampe says he wondered.

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Stampe is now encouraging anyone who travels abroad to get vaccinated.

“It makes sense,” he said. “It really is not worth what I went through.”

Stampe and his wife own a home in Mexico, which they visit every year.

According to the Saskatoon Health Region, hepatitis A is a severe liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. About 25 per cent of people infected with hepatitis A will require hospitalization, and one to three out of 1,000 people with the disease will die.

It is spread by close personal contact, as well as consuming contaminated drinks.

The vaccine is given as an initial dose followed by a booster shot six to 18 months later. The vaccine is effective for at least 20 years, if not for life, after the second dose.

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