Background: Since the adoption of a universal hepatitis B immunisation strategy, the reported incidence of acute hepatitis B has declined dramatically worldwide including in Israel. However, new cases of acute hepatitis B still occur. The aim of this study was to describe the incidence of acute hepatitis B in a referral area, routes of transmission, and outcome.
Methods: The charts of all new hepatitis B patients, who visited the clinic in the years 2002 and 2003 (January 2002 to December 2003), were reviewed. The main criteria for a diagnosis of acute hepatitis B were transient increase of alanine transaminase activity, and hepatitis B surface antigen seroconversion.
Results: Twenty nine men and seven women were diagnosed with acute hepatitis B infection during the study period. Two patients were previously vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine. One case of hepatitis D coinfection was reported. The incidence of acute hepatitis B in the referral area was estimated as 2.25 per 100 000 adult population. Mean age was 36 years (17–75). Twenty one patients (18 men and 3 women) acquired the virus through unprotected sexual contact, and seven patients through iatrogenic exposure. Thirty three patients underwent spontaneous seroconversion while three patients became chronic carriers.
Conclusions: Despite a universal immunisation policy, frequent cases of acute hepatitis B in Israel are still seen. High risk heterosexual activity and iatrogenic exposure seem to be the commonest routes of transmission. Further recommendations regarding vaccination policy are discussed.
- HBV, hepatitis B virus
- ALT, alanine transaminase
- AST, aspartate transaminase
- HBsAg, hepatitis B surface antigen
- anti-HBs Ab, antihepatitis B surface antibody
- acute hepatitis B
- high risk heterosexual contact
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Conflicts of interest: none declared.