Shift in hepatitis a epidemiology in Germany: Population distribution of hepatitis a virus antibodies of the immunoglobulin M class

M. Roggendorf, G. Panitz, R. Scheid, B. Bayerl, G. G. Frösner, F. Deinhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The age distribution, seasonal distribution, and source of infection of acute hepatitis A in Germany was studied by examining 6847 sera from patients with clinical diagnoses of acute liver disease (increased serum bilirubin and/or transaminase levels) for markers of hepatitis A and B viruses. Antibodies of the IgM class to hepatitis A virus (anti-HAV IgM) were identified by a solid phase radioimmunoassay which was adjusted to detect anti-HAV IgM for about 90 days after infection. During one calendar year (September 1978 to August 1979) 14.3% of sera from hepatitis patients was positive for anti-HAV IgM. The distribution peak varied in populations of different origins; in German patients it was at 21-25 years of age whereas non-German adults were rarely infected, presumably because they were immune from earlier infections contracted in their native countries where hepatitis A is endemic. In younger patients (one to ten years) most cases occurred in children of foreign workers from Mediterranean countries; in contrast, German children had a low incidence up to 15 years of age. A peak of hepatitis A cases was observed in the autumn. Questioning of 471 patients with hepatitis A revealed that 61.8% had visited foreign countries where hepatitis A is still endemic shortly before onset of their illness. It is therefore concluded that in Germany hepatitis A is largely an infection of young adults, most of whom contract the disease during summer holiday periods abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-266
Number of pages5
JournalInfection
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1980
Externally publishedYes

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