The number of Americans hospitalized with hepatitis A infections has decreased notably in recent years, according to a study published in Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Appearing in the November issue, the study shows a major decline in hospitalizations from hepatitis A infections in the U.S. between 2002 and 2011. Led by Melissa Collier, MD, of the division of Viral Hepatitis at the CDC in Atlanta, the study shows the rate of hospitalization for HAV infection as a principal diagnosis decreased from 0.72 to 0.29 per 100,000 cases. During the study period, the average age of hospitalized patients rose from 38 to 46 years, with the number of hepatitis A-related hospitalizations covered by Medicare also rising from 12% to 23%, the study stated. Researchers looked at trends in hepatitis A-related hospitalizations in the U.S. and used National Inpatient Survey discharge data to identify patients hospitalized for primary hepatitis A in the U.S. between 2002 and 2011.
Researchers also found an increase in accompanying diseases, such as liver disease, hypertension, heart disease, metabolic syndromes and chronic kidney disease. Patients with liver disease required longer hospital stays, the study stated.
Although hospitalizations from hepatitis A have declined, the disease appears to be more of a problem for older patients and those with liver disease or other chronic conditions, the study stated. Adult vaccinations can help prevent hepatitis A, and researchers noted healthcare providers should consider vaccinating high-risk patients.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 1.4 million new cases of hepatitis A every year globally. The virus is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person, according to the WHO.
Although cases of hepatitis A/HAV infection have decreased by 90% in the U.S. over the past two decades, there still are about 2,000 new cases each year, according to the CDC.
For more information, visit http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-113762.html?dmmsmid=89244&dmmspid=22624664&dmmsuid=2344893 and http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/a/pdfs/hepageneralfactsheet.pdf.