Saskatoon man urges vaccinations after contracting hepatitis A on vacation

A Saskatoon man is cautioning people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date after contracting hepatitis A on vacation.

Bill Stampe suspects he contracted the disease in Mexico despite having shots in 1995

Bill and Diane Stampe on vacation. Stampe believes he contracted hepatitis A while on vacation in Mexico. (Bill Stampe)

A Saskatoon man is cautioning people to make sure their vaccinations are up to dateafter contracting hepatitis A on vacation.

Bill Stampe and his wife own a home in Bucerias, Mexico, and they have travelled there each year for the past eight years.

On his return home this spring they had a stopover in Calgary. After five days on that leg of the journey, Stampe started showing signs of illness. 

"I was sweating. I was fatigued. I started to turn quite yellow," Stampe recalled.

He was airlifted to University Hospital in Edmonton and admitted to the intensive care unit where doctors confirmed he had hepatitis A and started treatment.

Bill Stampe underwent treatment for hepatitis A. He believes he contracted the disease in Mexico. (Bill Stampe)

"You kind of feel like you're invincible and nothing will ever do this to you," Stampe said. "It could have been an ice cube in a drink. It could have been something in a taco."

As a frequent globetrotter, he said it was something he had never expected.

You kind of feel like you're invincible and nothing will ever do this to you- Bill Stampe

"I had an immunization for hepatitis A back in 1995 but never had a booster and never thought twice about going back and doing it," he said.

Stampe said his liver almost failed and he lost about 14 kilograms or 30 pounds.

He is now well enough to go golfing. 

The Saskatoon Health Region recommends adults check whether their hepatitis vaccinations are up to date before travelling out of country to places where the virus is more common.

"Different people have different misconceptions about immunizations and that has to do with different experiences that people have had during their lifetime," Dr. Simon Kapaj, deputy medical health officer for the Saskatoon Health Region, said.

Kapaj says the best way to prevent infection is to get two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. He noted that people who travel should also be aware of all of their required immunizations and keep their vaccinations up to date. 

The region has confirmed four new cases of hepatitis A, so far, this year. In 2014, there were two.
 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story indicated that the Saskatoon Health Region advises getting booster shots for the hepatitis A virus every ten years. In fact, the region advises making sure you have both shots of the two dose vaccination needed for long term protection. If you have that protection, you will likely not need another shot at a later date.
    Jul 21, 2015 3:32 PM CT