In a follow-up on previous reports on hepatitis A outbreaks in Europe and in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) released some updated data and information on the situations in these two regions.

Hepatitis A/CDC
Hepatitis A/CDC

Between June 2016 and mid-May 2017, an unusual increase in cases of hepatitis A affecting mainly men who have sex with men (MSM) has been reported by low endemicity countries in the European Region, and in the Americas (Chile and the United States of America).

In the European Region, 15 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) reported 1173 cases related to the three distinct multi-country hepatitis A outbreaks as of 16 May 2017.

In Chile, 706 hepatitis A cases were reported at national level as of May 5,  2017. In the United States, the New York City Health Department has noted an increase in hepatitis A cases among MSM who did not report international travel.

In low endemicity settings, WHO recommends hepatitis A vaccination for high-risk groups, such as travelers to endemic areas, MSM, people who inject drugs, and chronic liver disease patients. For MSM the main risk factor is related to sexual transmission, particularly oral-anal sexual contact. Most of the affected countries have routinely recommended Hepatitis A vaccine for MSM.

This event is of particular concern from a public health perspective because of the current limited availability of hepatitis A vaccine worldwide. In addition, several national and international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride festivals will take place between June and September 2017, including the World Pride Festival in Madrid, Spain between 23 June and 2 July 2017.

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