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Hepatitis B in India

02 May 2012

The Health Department is investigating an increase in the number of hepatitis B infections in three villages (Pramadom, Mallasserry and Thengumkavu) in Pathanamthitta, Kerala state in southern India.

In the past three months, 9 cases of hepatitis B infection were confirmed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and more than 30 cases tested positive for infection by the antigen card test. Official data shows that there were 2 deaths from hepatitis B infection in the past 4 months; the unofficial figure states that at least 5 individuals have died.

Hepatitis B infection has been a growing problem in the area since 2003, and in 2011, 14 cases were confirmed by ELISA and a further 50 by the antigen card test.

Advice for Travellers

Carriage of the virus in the local population in India is considered to be intermediate (2-8%). Pre-exposure vaccine is available for those considered to be at risk.