Viral Hepatitis Cases in the U.S. Reach an All-Time Low

Routine vaccinations bring hepatitis A and B cases to lowest recorded levels

FRIDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of hepatitis A, B and C dropped significantly from 1995 to 2005 in the United States, reaching an all-time low, according to a surveillance summary in the March 16 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared the most recent available data on acute viral hepatitis, from 2005, with past data reported to the CDC.

The researchers found that hepatitis A cases dropped 88 percent from 1995 to 2005 to 1.5 per 100,000 people, the lowest ever. Children, in states where regular vaccination of children started in 1999, saw the greatest drop.

Hepatitis B cases fell 79 percent since 1990 to 1.8 per 100,000 people, also the lowest ever, falling the most in those under age 15 due to widespread vaccination of children. Hepatitis C cases also fell since the late 1980s amid efforts targeting transmission between injection-drug users.

"The recent expansion of recommendations for routine hepatitis A vaccination to include all children in the United States aged 12-23 months is expected to further reduce hepatitis A rates," the authors write. "Ongoing hepatitis B vaccination programs will ultimately eliminate domestic hepatitis B virus transmission… Prevention of hepatitis C relies on identifying and counseling uninfected persons at risk."

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