a1 Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections, Colindale, London, UK
a2 Health Protection Agency, Leeds General Infirmary, Virology, Old Medical School, Leeds, UK
a3 Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK
Surveillance of acute hepatitis B in England is necessary to estimate incidence, determine routes of transmission and inform public health actions. Here we describe an automated process to extract information on testing for markers of hepatitis B infection in English sentinel laboratories between 2002 and 2008. The resulting data were used to identify individuals with acute infections, describe their characteristics and estimate the incidence of infection. Two-thirds of acute infections were in males. Heterosexual exposure and injecting drug use were the main risks reported. Annual incidence was estimated at 1·3/100 000 person-years overall (1·7 and 0·6 for males and females, respectively) and declined each year. Automated extraction of hepatitis B markers, including quantitative results where available, can help to classify HBV status more accurately for surveillance. HBV incidence in England is at its lowest level in recent years.
(Accepted August 03 2011)
(Online publication September 06 2011)
† Sentinel surveillance study group members are given in the Appendix.