Number of hepatitis B diseases is falling
New low of hepatitis B diseases reached in Germany
The number of cases of hepatitis B is falling sharply in Germany, reaching a new low in 2012. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Last year, 679 cases with a clear clinical picture had been reported, which corresponds to a decline from the previous year of 16 percent. The vaccination of infants recommended by the RKI since 1995 may be effective.
Hepatitis B disease decreased by 16 percent
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease of the liver with hepatitis B viruses. Transmission is through bodily fluids such as blood, breast milk, saliva or seminal fluid. Most cases of hepatitis B disease without clinical symptoms. If symptoms occur, sufferers among others suffer from a typical yellowing of the skin, body aches, dark colored urine, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Normally, acute hepatitis B infection heals without complications within two to six weeks. Most sufferers are then immune for life, according to RKI. However, up to 10 percent of patients develop a chronic course, leading to acute liver failure in about 0.5 to 1 percent of cases. Hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis may also precede or occur.
The RKI reports that the number of cases of hepatitis B has declined by 16 percent to 679 reported cases over the past year. This is a new low since records began in 2001. At that time, about 2,300 cases of hepatitis B were reported by doctors and laboratories. The experts of the RKI see the vaccination recommendation of the Standing Committee on Immunization (STIKO) for a vaccination against hepatitis B for infants as the reason for the significant decline in the number of cases.
Men more often affected by Hepatistis B than women
As it turned out, men were affected more than twice as often (1.2 cases per 100,000 population) than women (0.5 cases per 100,000 population). „In the case of men, the frequency peak was in the age group 30- to 39-year-olds (2.0 illnesses per 100,000 inhabitants), and among women the age group 30- to 39-year-olds (0.9 per 100,000) second peak in the age group 20-24 (0.9 per 100,000)“, write the experts from the RKI „On the situation of important infectious diseases in Germany - viral hepatitis B and D in 2012“. From the age group of 25 to 29 year olds there was always a higher incidence in men than in women of the same age. The experts conclude that the virus in Germany is usually transmitted through sexual contact.
There are also differences among the federal states, which varies between 0.5 hepatitis B cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Schleswig-Holstein and 2.2 affected persons in Saarland. „The observed regional differences may be based on a different distribution of risk behaviors in certain regions or on different diagnosis and reporting behavior of physicians or different procedures in the health authorities“, assume the RKI experts. (Ag)
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Hepatitis A wave in Lower Saxony
Picture credits: JMG