Hepatitis A escalating in Europe

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According to the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) assessment, the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in Europe is not yet contained and more cases are to be expected. Travel health service Travelvax believes that the 675 cases confirmed between June 2016 and 28 April 2017 represent an under-reporting of the actual numbers of infections.

Travelvax said that since the last update in February, 387 new cases have been reported from 10 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK – and that eight per cent of confirmed cases have been seen in men who have sex with men (MSM).

According to Travelvax, hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable viral disease that is passed on to humans by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items, and poses a significant risk to travellers heading to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine is recommended, which offers immunity that is more than 99-per-cent effective and protects for 20 to 30 years.