Epidemiology and Infection

Viral hepatitis

Changing risk profile of hepatitis A in The Netherlands: a comparison of seroprevalence in 1995–1996 and 2006–2007

L. VERHOEFa1 c1, H. J. BOOTa1, M. KOOPMANSa1, L. MOLLEMAa2, F. VAN DER KLISa1, J. REIMERINKa1 and W. VAN PELTa2

a1 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Center for Infectious Disease Control, Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Perinatal Screening, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a2 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Center for Infectious Disease Control, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

SUMMARY

The prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis A virus (HAV) was assessed in a nationwide sample (n=6229) in The Netherlands in 2006–2007, and compared to the seroprevalence in a similar study in 1995–1996 (n=7376). The overall seroprevalence increased from 34% in 1995–1996 to 39% in 2006–2007, mainly due to vaccination of travellers and an increased immigrant population. Risk factors remain travelling to, and originating from, endemic regions, and vaccination is targeted currently at these risk groups. Our results show a trend of increasing age of the susceptible population. These people would also benefit from HAV vaccination because they are likely to develop clinically serious symptoms after infection, and are increasingly at risk of exposure through imported viruses through foods or travellers. The cost-effectiveness of adding elderly people born after the Second World War as a target group for prophylactic vaccination to reduce morbidity and mortality after HAV infection should be assessed.

(Accepted December 08 2010)

(Online publication January 13 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: L. Verhoef, M.Sc., National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Center for Infectious Disease Control, Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Perinatal Screening, Bilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email: linda.verhoef@rivm.nl)

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