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Hepatitis A in Europe (Update 1)

10 Jan 2018

On January 2018 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported a large increase in hepatitis A infections in 2017 compared with previous years. These infections mostly affected men who have sex with men (MSM).

Since 29 September 2017, 22 countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) reported 950 cases associated with this outbreak. The outbreak total from June 2016 to 22 December 2017 is 3 813 cases.

The total number of hepatitis A cases between January and November 2017 is 15 040, from 24 European countries. This an almost a 3.6-fold increase compared with the same period between 2012 and 2015.

Recommendations for Travellers

Hepatitis A is spread by the faecal-oral route and most travellers to the affected areas will be at low risk of infection.   

Prevention is focused on food and water precautions and practising meticulous hand and personal hygiene to reduce the risk of hepatitis A infection. Detailed risk management advice can be found via following links:

Vaccination is recommended if you are visiting areas where drinking water may be unsafe and where hygiene and sanitation is poor. Men who have sex with men are at higher risk of hepatitis A infection. There are various brands of hepatitis A vaccine available: Avaxim, Havrix Monodose, Havrix Junior Monodose and Vaqta Paediatric.

Hepatitis A vaccine is also available in a preparation that combines it with hepatitis B vaccine: Ambirix, Twinrix and Twinrix Paediatric and a preparation that combines it with typhoid vaccine: Hepatyrix and ViATIM.

For further information see Hepatitis A.